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Bishop Daly Marks Milestone in Ministry


Bishop Daly to celebrate his 10th anniversary as a bishop on May 25, 2021

Bishop Thomas Daly was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1987 and served in the archdiocese until he was appointed an auxiliary bishop for the diocese of San Jose in 2011. He was appointed Bishop of Spokane in 2015.

Bishop Daly has served the Diocese of Spokane for the past six years. The Inland Catholic asked Bishop Daly to share a few thoughts about his ministry as a bishop.

Inland Catholic: How did you learn you were to be appointed a bishop? What was your reaction?

Bishop Daly: I was at a meeting at St. Patrick's seminary. And as that meeting was about to begin, a phone call came and I was told by the front desk: “the archbishop’s secretary would like you to call her.” I called the archbishop’s secretary and she said, “the nuncio has called for you.”

And when the nuncio calls, it's not to ask “how do you think the Giants are going to do this year?” So I went to the Blessed Sacrament chapel at St. Patrick's seminary and said a brief prayer. And I went out to the baseball field and I called Archbishop Sambi. He told me, “The Holy Father has appointed you,” there was a rustling of papers—he must have been calling other guys, “the Holy Father has appointed you the auxiliary bishop for the diocese of San Jose, California. Do you accept?”

I said, “well, I don't know. I guess so, yes.”

And he said, “let me tell you, I worked in the nuncio’s office in the Holy Land, and many times I walked along the sea of Galilee where Jesus called his first apostles and they left everything to follow him. You must do the same.” And then he said, “this call is confidential.” And he hung up on me and that was it.

I was very surprised, first of all, because I thought people went to Rome to study for that. And the second thing was to go to San Jose. I was a priest of the archdiocese [of San Francisco] and typically you became an auxiliary bishop in your own diocese.

Inland Catholic: How would you compare your work as a bishop with your past experiences as a high school president, an educator, and vocations director?

Bishop Daly: I think I've been blessed; it seems the hand of God has been in my priestly life. Teaching young people the truths of the faith, working as a vocation director, forming the shepherds, and playing a part in who will be the priests of the future.

And secondly was what I learned in a very large parish through confessions and celebrating the sacraments and prayer—the salvation of souls. I think those three areas guided me in my priesthood and they have guided me as a bishop. So when someone asks, ‘what are your priorities as the bishop?’ I talk about faith formation in Catholic schools, vocations for priesthood and religious life, and the call to holiness.

I think I learned more how to be a diocesan bishop from being the president of a high school, because there you have to inspire, you have to guide people. You have to kind of guide, inspire, talk and be very patient.

Inland Catholic: What was your reaction when you were appointed to the Diocese of Spokane?

Bishop Daly: It was a very providential and natural diocese because I had spent time here when I was vocation director. We had seminarians at Bishop White. It's also because it's the only diocese and cathedral under the patronage of our Lady of Lourdes.

It seemed to be very much God's will and by Mary's intercession.

Inland Catholic: Are there any memories that stand out from your time as a bishop?

Bishop Daly: Well certainly there's the times of ordinations; to ordain men to the priesthood. But I would say it's the ability to know, that as a successor to the apostles, that there's always going to be an element of suffering, because all but John died a martyr’s death. There has to be a greater reliance on the Lord.

I think the Episcopal ministry has helped me to really take to heart those words, “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” So I would say that that has been defined not by one particular experience, but rather, I think it is an all-encompassing ratifying of those words of Jesus.