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Archbishop Daniel Buechlein. OSB, Dies at 79

INDIANAPOLIS – Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, a Jasper native who led the Indianapolis Roman Catholic Archdiocese for 19 years before a stroke forced his retirement in 2011, died early today (January 25) at the infirmary of southern Indiana’s St. Meinrad Archabbey, where he had been living since his retirement. Spokesman Greg Otolski said he didn’t immediately know the cause of Buechlein’s death, but that his health had been declining over the past month.

Archbishop Buechlein was born in Jasper April 20, 1938, to Carl and Rose (Blessinger) Buechlein.

Buechlein was bishop of the Memphis, Tennessee, diocese for five years before Pope John Paul II named him the fifth archbishop of Indianapolis in 1992. He grew up in Jasper and became a Benedictine monk at St. Meinrad, including serving as president-rector of its college.

During his retirement news conference, Buechlein said he believed his greatest accomplishment was strengthening the education system for the Indianapolis archdiocese, which includes some 225,000 Catholics in 39 central and southern Indiana counties, including Spencer County.

Enrollment in the archdiocese’s schools increased during Buechlein’s tenure by 30 percent, to more than 25,000 students, reversing a 25-year decline, according to the archdiocese.

“With your help and the help of God we’ve accomplished much together,” Buechlein said.

Buechlein opened Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary in Indianapolis in 2004 to prepare college students before they begin their formation for the priesthood. The seminary, named for the first bishop of Indianapolis, reached its capacity with 35 students before Buechlein’s retirement.

He also ordained 25 men as permanent deacons in 2008, making Indianapolis the final Catholic archdiocese in the country to adopt the ministry after it was restored by Pope Paul VI in 1967. Deacons, who are often married, can perform some Catholic sacraments such as baptism and marriage, but cannot lead Masses.

Buechlein took his Order of St. Benedict solumn vows August 15, 1962, and was ordained May 3, 1964. He was appointed Bishop of Memphis, Tennessee, January 20, 1987 and ordained Bishop March 2, 1987. He was appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis July 14, 1992 and installed Bishop September 9, 1992. He resigned as Archbishop September 21, 2011.

Buechlein’s stroke in 2011 left him unable to stand on his own. That illness followed chemotherapy and radiation treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008 and the removal of a non-cancerous tumor removed from his abdomen in 2010.

The funeral Mass for Archbishop Buechlein will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Visitation will be at the cathedral from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and from 9 to 10:45 a.m. Wednesday. Following the funeral, the body will be transferred to Saint Meinrad Archabbey, where the Office of the Dead will be prayed at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Archabbey Church. Visitation at the Archabbey will be from 9 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Thursday. At 11 a.m. Thursday, Mass will be celebrated, followed by burial in the Archabbey Cemetery. (All times listed at Eastern Standard Time).

A complete obituary can be found at www.newsnowdc.com/news/obituaries.

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