JASPER, Ind. (WTTV) – 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.
Arrangements for Buechlein will soon be announced, according to the archdiocese.
*This story was originally published by WTTV in Indianapolis.