Peter Darcy, CM, SVC 1924-79
1891 - 1979
Brother Peter would have read this piece carefully.
Being an avid reader and a stickler for accuracy, he would have pored over it to assure himself that we got everything right.
His approach to life was invariably direct. Nothing irritated him more than philosophical detachment, and he had little patience with any tendancy to embroider the facts for the sake of a good yarn. Subtlety of any kind looked to him like evasion and any boy who tried to be funny about the price, shape, size, texture or style of a football jersey was soon reminded that Peter had little time for such idle chatter. Though he had a nice sense of humour and must have heard countless generations of schoolboys make the usual jokes about his baldness, it never interfered with the work in hand. Or they would be told with mock seriousness that he had forgotten to put in his curlers again. In the middle of winter he would accost his friends in the local garage with the remark— “I didn’t see you in the Forty-foot this morning!”
For years — in addition to his other duties — Peter tended the College generator with scrupulous care and when in later years someone presumed to start it without him, they were warned against the ultimate incompetence, “losing the charge”. Academic qualifications counted for nothing in his pragmatic world; if you failed to get it going you were dismissed as a mere amateur meddling in a professional world. When the old machine was finally replaced the contractors expressed their admiration that Brother Peter’s generator was still in superb working order.
The College car was also Peter’s particular concern and driving the confrères to the various chaplaincies was undertaken with military precision. He set a standard of punctuality that brooked no defaulters and heaven help the unfortunate confrère who slept it out. He lived by certain standards which remained unquestioned throughout his life. In his latter years when most of the driving slipped from his hands, he accepted it with calm detachment. In a real sense his committment to anything was in response to Obedience and when asked to give it up he did so with ease: it was no longer his concern. When one by one he gave up the Sports’ Shop, the Cars and finally the generator, the break was instant and complete. Apart from the occasional wry observation on the driving habits of the confrères, he never indicated by word or gesture that any of these areas had been for so long the centre of his working life.
Of course, the real centre of his life was elsewhere. Peter faced change and the limitations of old age with remarkable equanimity because his devotion to Christ transcended all of them. Mass, the Eucharist and Prayer were the still point of his life and nothing took precedence over them. In the first years of his retirement, while he was still active, most of his waking hours were spent — happily — in the Oratory where he gladly participated in every Mass said there. When his sense of time became more hazy he would feel aggrieved to miss a third Mass in the day. His love of the Lord was total and his single-minded service of Him spread to everything in his life. His work was essentially another facet of his service of Christ. The niceties of distinctions like secular and sacred meant nothing to a Faith as complete as Peter’s and, come to think of it, he would have had precious little patience with you if you tried to expound it!
In everything he was deeply loyal. His committment once given was never revoked. His Faith, which he learned first from his parents in Inchicore and the Oblate Fathers for whom he had such strong affection, was that strong virile kind which never wavered and saw in every change liturgical or otherwise an invitation to draw closer to the Lord. At times details such as the intricacies of the Breviary could irritate his sense of order and simplicity, but he worked at it because this was what the Church asked of him. He certainly enjoyed the increased opportunities to participate actively in the Liturgy and while his unique rite of serving Mass would have delighted the Zualdi-Sheehy generation, his natural sense of dignity and an impressive reading voice indicated a man to whom worship was thoroughly natural. The Rosary was also a treasured part of his devotional life; Our Lady he loved with real affection and throughout his declining years he always fingered his beads as he sat in his chair. Every year while he was able, he would set out for Lourdes and those of us who lived with him knew that when the annual visit had to be cancelled Peter was certainly ill.
His funeral in the College was an impressive tribute to the affection in which he was held, not just by the community and staff but by many people in the locality. Those who were his friends were friends for life and though they could expect the same treatment as the confrères if they fell short of his standards of punctuality, they admired and loved a simple man who was so deeply Christian. I doubt if he fully realised just how many people liked him. Everyone who cared for him in his last few years when — unknown to himself — he could be a difficult patient, was completely devoted to him and mourned his passing deeply.
When all’s said and done, Peter was a holy man. His years of fidelity to the Community have enriched it; the power his prayers mediated to us has left us stronger.
With his tenacious loyalty, I suspect, Peter will prove a stubborn advocate for us with the Lord.
PETER DARCY, C.M.
Born: Inchicore, 22 June, 1891.
Entered the Congregation: 19 March, 1920.
Final Vows: 7 November, 1923.
Castleknock, 1924— 1979.
Died 16 October, 1979.