Former Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel Buechlein dies at age 79

Daniel Buechlein (file photo from 2011)

JASPER, Ind. – Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, who served as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for nearly two decades, has died at the age of 79.

Buechlein was the fifth archbishop of the archdiocese from July 14, 1992, through September 21, 2011, when he retired. Buechlein passed away around 12:20 a.m. Thursday at the Saint Meinrad monastery infirmary.

Buechlein was born in Jasper, Ind., in April 1938. He was ordained into the priesthood in May 1964. After his ordination, Buechlein spent two years in Rome, when he obtained a Licentiate in Sacred Theology with a specialization in liturgy at the International Benedictine University of Sant’ Anselmo.

He served as an assistant dean of students and chairman of the Division of Religion at Saint Meinrad College. In 1971 he was director of the first national conference for seminary spiritual directors, and coordinated the founding of the Midwest Association of Seminary Spiritual Directors.

He also served as president-rector of the Saint Meinrad School of Theology for 16 years. In 1987, Pope John Paul II appointed him as the third bishop of the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee.

After the death of the Most Rev. Edward T. O’Meara in 1992, the pope named Buechlein as his replacement in Indianapolis. He would remain in the position for 19 years, helping boost enrollment at the archdiocese’s Catholic schools and reversing a 25-year decline.

He founded the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis in 2004 to prepare college seminarians for major seminary and expanded the services of Catholic Charities and social outreach ministries. In 2009, the archdiocese opened a 30,000-square-foot shelter for families on the west side of Indianapolis.

Buechlein is also credited with helping the archdiocese regain firm financial footing, raising $300 million through the annual stewardship appeal and separate capital campaigns to pay for building projects and ministry needs.

In March 2011, Buechlein suffered a stroke. Months later, citing health concerns, he sent a letter to the Vatican asking to resign as archbishop. Pope Benedict XVI granted the request, and Buechlein returned to St. Meinrad. Joseph Tobin succeeded him and was installed in 2012.

Buechlein is survived by his brother, Charles, of Jasper, Indiana, along with his nieces and nephews.

Current Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Charles C. Thompson, issued the following statement following Buechlein’s death:

“My relationship with Archbishop Daniel, a great mentor and dear friend, extends from 1983, when we first met. Though he will be greatly missed, Archbishop Daniel’s legacy always pointing to Jesus Christ will continue among us. He was a faithful monk, priest, rector and bishop. Like so many, I will certainly miss him. He was such a tremendous model of prayerfulness, holiness and leadership. I also feel deeply blessed to have many wonderful memories of him. It is most humbling to follow in his footsteps as Archbishop of Indianapolis. My thoughts and prayers are with our Archdiocesan family, St. Meinrad Archabbey/Seminary and the Buechlein family. Through the mercy of God, may Archbishop Daniel and all the faithful departed Rest In Peace.”

With his statement, Thompson included the schedule for services and public visitation. They will start on Jan. 30 at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral at 1347 N. Meridian Street in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, Jan. 30 (Times below are EST)

  • 8:30 a.m. Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Doors Open
  • 9 a.m. Rite of Reception (Open to the Public)
  • 9:30 to 6:30 p.m. Visitation (Open to the Public)
  • 7 p.m. Solemn Evening Prayer (Open to the Public)
  • 8 to 9 p.m. Visitation (Open to the Public)
  • 9 p.m. Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Doors Close

Wednesday, Jan. 31

  • 9 a.m. Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Doors Open
  • 9 to 10:45 a.m. Visitation (Open to the Public)
  • 11 a.m. Funeral Mass (Open to the Public)

Immediately following the Funeral Mass, a luncheon will be provided in the Assembly Hall of the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center, 1400 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202. Buechlein’s body will be transferred to Saint Meinrad Archabbey at 200 Hill Drive, St. Meinrad, IN 47577.

Wednesday, Jan. 31 (cont.) – (Times below are CT)

  • 7 p.m. Office of the Dead (Open to the Public)
  • 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visitation (Open to the Public)

Thursday, Feb. 1

  • 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Visitation (Open to the Public)
  • 10 a.m. Mass for a Deceased Bishop (Open to the Public)

Immediately following the Mass, the Committal Service will take place at the Archabbey Cemetery. Per the Archbishop’s wishes, he will be buried in the cemetery of the monastic community. A buffet lunch will be provided following the burial. (Open to the Public)

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the “Catholic Community Foundation” of the archdiocese for the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary Endowment Fund or to “Saint Meinrad Archabbey.”