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Arizona Daily Star, March 20, 1964, Part 2 of 2


Archbishop Daniel J. Gercke Succumbs At 09 (Continued From Page One) larities with the experience of St. Paul." Archbishop Gercke turned over the work of the diocese to Bishop Green in 1960. Bishop Green had served as auxiliary bishop of the diocese. Pope John XXIII appointed him titular archbishop of Cot-yaeum when he retired. Cot- yaeum was an ancient Roman Catholic see in western Turkey, now named Kutahya. Archbishop Gercke was named to head the Tucson diocese in 1923 and journeyed west from Philadelphia to take his post in December of the same year. He was the first native-born American to head the diocese. When he arrived in Arizona, the diocese had 33 parishes. Now there are more than 80, while the area has been reduced by half. Although he had served in the Philippines as a missionary, Tucson still sounded far-off when the 49-year-old Philadelphian was informed of his appointment in 1923. He had a right to refuse. While pondering his decision, Archbishop Gercke picked up the book, "Soldiers of the Cross." "Then I knew I couldn't shirk a duty if I was to be a soldier of the Cross, so I accepted," remembered the archbishop later. "I never had any regrets that my lot was cast in the Southwest. "I am happy and grateful for the years I have spent in Tucson and for the kindness shown by our people." He had hoped to attend the Vatican Ecumenical Council in Rome, but these hopes faded with his health. Instead, he remained at home and turned to his second love, watching the Los Angeles Dodgers demolish the New York Yankees in the World Series.- Although frail health in the past year has kept him in "semi-retirement," the silver-haired archbishop ministered to his diocese for 37 years with a dry wit and candid wisdom that made his name beloved to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He was no stranger to controversy, whether it involved rooting against the New York Yankees or explaining the church position on bingo. He was never afraid to make his stand clear. "I don't believe the United Nations amounts to a hill of beans," he said in 1953, "because it does not recognize God. In deference to Joe Stalin, it is not even possible to say the Lord's Prayer in the U. N." He has been caught in the middle of zoning disputes and tangled with the Board of Regents over a proposed relocation of the University of Arizona Newman Club. Even after he relinquished the post of spiritual leader to southern and central Arizona's 375,000 Catholics, Archbishop Gercke still arose at 5:45 a.m. right up through the morning before his death. He dropped lunch from his menu when he first came to Tucson, and never restored it. He never lay down for a daytime nap. "It takes too much time out of a man's life," he explained. Archbishop Gercke was the second of 14 children in a Ger man-American family. His father, a baker, died in 1911. His mother, Catherine Shea, lived to the age of 97 and left 42 grandchildren and 39 greatgrandchildren when she died. He was born in Holmesburg, a suburb of Philadelphia, on Oct. 9, 1874. "When I was born the world knew no telephones, submarines, automobiles, airplanes, radios or television sets," he recalled recently. "I have lived to see nearly all these wonderful inventions turned by man against man. If men and nations hope to be saved from entire obliteration . . . there is only one way out. They must turn back to God." He worked his way through school as a newspaper carrier and laborer in sawmills. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1901 after graduating from the Philadelphia Theological Seminary of St. Charles. He was rector of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Philadelphia when appointed bishop of Tucson. When he took over, Tucson had three parishes and Phoenix one. Even when 60,000 square miles were carved out to form the diocese of Gallup, his diocese covered more area than the combined states of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maryland. "Retirement for me would be the end," the lively octogenarian- Religious, Business, Educational, Civic Leaders Mourn For Prelate Some spoke of the "personal loss." Some paid tribute to his many accomplishments. Archbishop Daniel J. Gercke was beloved by men of all faiths. Bishop Francis J. Green, his successor, gave this statement: "The people of the Diocese of Tucson and of the entire State of Arizona are grief-stricken by the death of Archbishop Gercke. For 40 years, he lived among us and for 37 of these was the active and energetic shepherd of the Diocese of Tucson. "Under his administration, the Church in Arizona grew from a missionary area to a well-established and flourishing diocese. During his administration, he provided for the needs of the ever-increasing Catholic population with untiring zeal. "He developed a very fine diocesan clergy and took a personal interest in his priests, assuming the role more of a father than of a superior. Few dioceses have a closer-knit group of priests than the Diocese of Tucson. "For me, his death is a personal loss because of his kindly interest and fatherly concern through the years of my priesthood. Having been ordained by him, my years as a priest have been very closely associated with him. For seven years, I was privileged to serve him in the role of auxiliary bishop. These years were very happy years, and brought to me a very clear realization of the great character which Archbishop Gercke possessed. "Archbishop Gercke has outlived most of his intimate friends in the hierarchy, but his name is held in respect and veneration by all the bishops of the United States. I am sure they are joined to us in the deepest ties of grief and sympathy. "Since his retirement three years ago, the archbishop has prayed that God would take him to Himself, and especially in the last few days has this prayer been most frequently upon his ian once said. "My work is my life and I hugely enjoy it." The Sisters of the Diocese of Tucson will attend requiem mass for Archbishop Gercke tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the San Agustin Cathedral. The sisters will sing the mass and attend a luncheon in the cathedral hall following the service. The mass is not open to the public. lips. He had a great devotion to St. Joseph, and yesterday expressea tne conviction that St. Joseph would come for him on his feast day. This morning at 5:15, as I was saying the prayers for the dying at his bedside, he breathed out his soul as I called upon St. Joseph, the patron of the dying to come to his assistance." Yesterday was the feast day of St. Joseph. Dr. Richard A. Harvill, president of the University of Arizona, said: 'The University of Arizona mourns the passing of Archbishop Gercke, whose many years of devoted service and leadership have contributed so much to the state and all its citizens. Our sorrow is assuaged by the knowledge that his good works live after him. In particular I am grateful for the fine relations that we had through the years. His snn- port of programs relating to mgner eaucanon ana tne assistance he gave in connection with student endeavors in the religious field have been of inestimable value. His life was an inspiration to all of us and his beloved memory will be honored always in the hearts of Arizonans." "I shall miss him very much," said Mayor Lew Davis. The Rev. J. Robert Moffett, president of the Tucson Council of Churches, spoke of "the fine and generous relationship between the Protestants and Catholics of Arizona," and the archbishop's contributions to this harmony. The archbishop will lie In state Sunday at the cathedral from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday Archbishop Gercke will lie in state all day. Solemn requiem high mass, open to the public, will be sung at 10 a.m. The clergy of the diocese will recite the Office for the Dead Monday at 8 p.m. at the San Agustin Cathedral. The Rev. George C. Whitney, president of the Tucson Council for Civic Unity, said Archbishop Gercke was a community leader who had "more than passing concern for his fellow man. He always took to heart the welfare of minority and underprivileged groups. We are all saddened by his passing. Archbishop Gercke helped found the council. He offered "good judgment and kindly concern that was of the greatest value to all of us. His help was inestimable in setting wise policies to better serve our diversified population in the area of human and civil rights," the Rev. Whitney said. Rabbi Albert T. Bilgray mentioned his pioneering role in the state. Although he at first pondered the decision to travel West from his native Philadelphia, Archbishop Gercke came to love his sprawling, arid diocese that included towering mountains and at first the Grand Canyon. In an article written by Bishop Gercke in 1928 in the diocesan weekly, he said: "My pastoral visitations are long and they take me through the great desert and over the mountains. When the golden sun has dropped down behind the mountain range, and shades of evening have closed in the day and the coyote is prowling about for its prey, it is refreshing to sit down with and have one of these well-tried, weather-beaten heroes of the Southwest tell the story simply and modestly of journeys and experiences which are the lot of the lone missionary."

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