|The Episcopate of Bishop Michael Dudick|
With the transfer of Bishop Stephen Kocisko to Pittsburgh in late 1967, the four year old Eparchy of Passaic was left without a bishop. After a wait of more than six months, His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, finally filled the vacancy created by Bishop Kocisko’s transfer by naming Monsignor Michael Dudick as the second bishop of the Passaic Eparchy.
Michael J. Dudick was born on February 24, 1916 in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. After receiving his elementary and secondary education in the St. Clair public schools, Michael Dudick graduated from St. Procopius College in Lisle, Illinois. Upon completion of his theological studies at the Benedictine Seminary at St. Procopius, the future bishop was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Basil Takach on November 13, 1945.
After his ordination, Father Dudick was assigned to work in the Chancery Office of the then Pittsburgh Exarchate. For nine years, Father Dudick served in the Chancery, holding the position of Assistant Chancellor and Secretary. In addition to his administrative duties during this period, Father Dudick ministered to a number of parishes throughout Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
Following successful pastorates at St. Nicholas Church in Old Forge, Pennsylvania and at St. Mary’s Church in Freeland, Pennsylvania, Bishop Kocisko named Father Dudick the first Chancellor of the Passaic Eparchy upon its establishment in 1963. On October 25, 1963, Father Dudick was named a papal domestic prelate and received the title of Reverend Monsignor.
On July 29, 1963, His Holiness, Pope Paul VI appointed Monsignor Dudick as bishop of the Passaic Eparchy. His consecration to the episcopate and installation was held on October 24, 1968 at St. Michael’s Cathedral.
Bishop Dudick’s long tenure as the Chief Shepherd of the Passaic Eparchy witnessed the establishment of over twenty new parishes and missions. Many of these new parishes were organized in Southern states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Bishop Dudick also expanded and developed the physical facilities of the Eparchy. Under his leadership, an annual stewardship program was initiated throughout the Eparchy. Through this annual fund-raising campaign, valuable financial assistance was obtained not only for the development of new parishes and missions but also for construction of important Eparchial facilities. These facilities included a new and modern Eparchial Center in West Paterson, New Jersey, consisting of Chancery offices, a chapel, museum and library, and the Carpathian Village in Canadensis, Pennsylvania.
Like his predecessor, Bishop Dudick worked diligently to re-establish authentic Eastern Rite traditions and practices. Under his direction, annual presbyterial conferences for the support, education and fellowship of all of the clergy in the Eparchy were started. Regional pilgrimages to such places as the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., the Basilian Monastery of Mariapoch in Matawan, New Jersey and the St. Nicholas Shrine at the Carpathian Village were instituted. In addition, the position of deacon was re-emphasized and a number of married men were educated, trained and ordained by the bishop for service in this valuable ministry throughout the Passaic Eparchy. Also, a colorful Eastern Catholic bulletin series was successfully introduced and was later adopted for use by several other Byzantine Catholic eparchies throughout the country.
As a man interested in the origins and history of the Carpatho-Rusyn people, Bishop Dudick founded the Passaic Eparchy’s Heritage Institute. This institute served to house a magnificent collection of religious and secular paintings, ecclesiastical art, vestments, national dress, embroideries, folk art and other memorabilia as well as library with a large collection of rare Slavonic books and manuscripts.
Bishop Dudick was a prominent and effective public spokesman for the Byzantine Catholic Church in America. A strong supporter of the pro-life movement, Bishop Dudick frequently lead clergy and faithful of the Eparchy in activities held in conjunction with the annual “Right-To-Life” march in Washington, D.C. These activities included the bishop’s celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the National Shrine at the conclusion of the march. In addition, Bishop Dudick’s affable and friendly manner made him an important ambassador for our Church not only in relations with Latin Rite bishops but also with hierarchs of our separated brethren of the Orthodox Church.
After eighteen years of pastorally beneficial ministry, Bishop Dudick stepped down as the head of the Passaic Eparchy in 1996. Though officially retired, Bishop Dudick still remains active and assists even today in ministering to the spiritual needs of the faithful of the Byzantine Metropolitan Province.