Bishop Daily was born to Mary McBride Vose and John F. Daily, a member of an established New England family, in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1927. Upon completion of his studies at first Boston College and later St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, he was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1952 by Cardinal Richard Cushing at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Following ordination, he was assigned as curate for St. Ann’s church in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincy, Massachusetts. He remained in that post through the rest of that decade.
In 1960, Bishop Daily joined the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle and moved to the Minatambo area of Lima, Peru. He spent five years as a missionary in Peru.
After returning to Boston, he was assigned again to St. Ann’s, where he served as assistant pastor until 1971. He was appointed to the position of secretary to Cardinal Humberto Sousa Medeiros and later Vicar for Temporalities. In 1975, he was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston and in 1976 was appointed vicar general of the archdiocese. Because of his fluency in Spanish, he was given special duties regarding the Spanish-speaking members of the archdiocese.
On July 17, 1984, just four months after Bernard Law was installed as Archbishop of Boston, Bishop Daily was appointed the first bishop of the new Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida. Among his most noteworthy actions was his leading of pro-life prayer vigils at local abortion clinics. From 1987 to 2003, Bishop Daily also served as the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.
In 1990, Bishop Daily was installed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, succeeding Bishop Francis J. Mugavero. Shortly after his installation, he responded to a reporter’s question by stating that the then-Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, would not be welcomed as a speaker in the diocese’s parishes because of Cuomo’s pro-choice position on abortion, which was directly at odds with Catholic teaching.
On August 1, 2003, Daily announced that his resignation as a bishop had finally been accepted by the Vatican, ten months after he had submitted a letter of resignation upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. Bishop Daily remains the Emeritus Bishop of Brooklyn and is a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and a member of the boards of the Society of St. James the Apostle in Boston and the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities in Washington, D.C.