Paul Dudzic named Chief Development Officer for archdiocese

Paul Dudzic visited the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception during a visit to Denver, 18 years ago. Then-Archbishop Charles J. Chaput celebrated Mass, and the service inspired a decision that would change the course of Dudzic’s life—to choose “citizenship” in the Archdiocese of Denver.

Dudzic recently answered another call—to lead the new Office of Development for the Archdiocese of Denver, as chief development officer.

A native of Connecticut, and lifelong Catholic, Dudzic graduated from Connecticut’s Fairfield University, earned his juris doctor from Duke, then an MBA from the University of Chicago. He went on to work for large law and consulting firms.

“I visited Denver, attended Mass at the cathedral, and just fell in love with the archdiocese,” Dudzic said. “I loved everything about it.”

He was so moved by Denver’s Catholic community, he uprooted his life in San Francisco and moved here with his wife, Patricia, only because it felt more Catholic.

“I was getting a little tired of the less-than-traditional environment of San Francisco,” he said.

In Denver, he worked the next 16 years in law, consulting, and as president of the investment firm Pinnacle Development in Greenwood Village.

“I’ve done a lot of development work in and around Denver,” he explained. “I’ve sat on a series of boards here. I’ve worked on the bridge project at the University of Denver, and I chaired the development committee for Denver Botanical Gardens.”

A long list of other roles includes serving as vice chairman of the Augustine Institute, and work with Seeds of Hope – a ministry that helps economically disadvantaged children attend Catholic schools.

Paul and Patricia are parents to Michael, a freshman at Mullen High School; Christopher, a fifth grader at St. Mary’s School in Littleton; and Megan, a junior at Regis Jesuit High School.

“I consider myself a citizen of the archdiocese, and I love to share that passion with others,” he said, explaining why he accepted the job. “I want to share my love of the priests, bishops, seminaries and laity. I think we have the best archdiocese in the country, bar none. It is extraordinary. From Archbishop (James) Stafford, to Archbishop (Charles) Chaput, to Archbishop (Samuel) Aquila, our archdiocese has had leadership that is unwavering from an orthodoxy perspective.

“We have friendly, approachable people leading our church at all levels, and it is highly unusual.”

Invitation to mission

Dudzic feels so impassioned about the archdiocese, and the work it does, he says calling and asking for money will be a pleasure. He has never known of a community with such a generous base of Catholic philanthropists.

“I believe that by asking people for donations, I invite them to participate in the mission of our church,” he said.

The Development Office of the Archdiocese of Denver will coordinate the core services formerly provided by the Catholic Alliance for ministries and institutions of the archdiocese, such as Redemptoris Mater and St. John Vianney seminaries, Catholic Charities, Centro San Juan Diego, Seeds of Hope, Bishop Machebeuf and Holy Family High Schools, and the Prophet Elijah House for retired priests. The office will also assist in growing the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.

As chief development officer, Dudzic plans to expand funding beyond the traditional base of loyal donors. That will include trying to align people with causes they care most about.

“What work are we doing that aligns with your heart? That’s what we will try to help donors discern,” he said. “I believe that in growing the services provided to many of the poor, homeless and struggling in our community, we can reach a lot of non-Catholic donors more than ever to support our mission. We can share Christ’s vision for taking care of our poor, for taking care of our community in a way that transcends a religious boundary.

“You don’t have to be Catholic to help people sleep at night at the Samaritan House. You don’t have to be Catholic to help put kids in a good Catholic school if the public school is not getting the job done.”

He enjoyed his successful career of law and investing, and looks forward to leveraging those experiences in his new role.

“I’d be a fool to think any of this work is about me,” he said. “I go to work every day knowing it is for Christ, and through him. It makes fundraising a lot easier, when you know it is for God.”

Featured image: Paul Dudzic pictured here with his family. From left: Michael, Paul, Christopher, Megan, Patricia. (Photo provided)

COMING UP: Father Jan Mucha remembered for his ‘joy and simplicity’

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When Father Marek Ciesla was 11 years old, he encountered a priest in his hometown in northern Poland who was visiting his parish on mission.

“I was impressed,” said Father Ciesla. “A couple of my friends and I were talking about how energetic, how wonderful this priest was. I think in this way he inspired us a little bit to follow the call to the priesthood.”

The priest was Father Jan Mucha, and little did Father Ciesla know that decades later and an ocean away, he would reunite with the man that inspired him and his friend to pursue the priesthood.

In 2010 when Father Mucha was retiring from his role as pastor of St. Joseph Polish Catholic Church in Denver, Father Ciesla was sent from Poland to the Archdiocese of Denver to take his place.

The priests spent two days together, and Father Ciesla was struck by the familiarity of Father Mucha.

“For some reason, the way he was talking and the words he was using, something rang a bell,” he said. “I asked him if he remembers visiting my parish. And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I had it on my list. I remember.’”

Father Ciesla was amazed that the man he was there to replace was the same one who had impacted his life all those years ago.

“God works in mysterious ways,” said Father Ciesla. “I never thought I would meet him again.”

Father Mucha passed away March 21 after serving the archdiocese for 40 years. He was 88 years old.

Father Mucha was born March 16, 1930 in Gron, Poland to parents Kazimierz and Aniela Mucha. He was one of five children. Father Mucha attended high school in Kraków and went on to study philosophy and theology at a seminary in Tarnów.

Father Mucha was ordained December 19, 1954 in Tarnów by Auxiliary Bishop Karol Pękala. He served at St. Theresa Parish in Lublin, Sacred Heart Parish in Florynka and as a Latin teacher at Sacred Heart Novice House in Mszana Dolna.

He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver on April 20, 1978. Before he was granted retirement status in August of 2010, he served at St. Joseph Polish for nearly 40 years.

“Father Mucha was dedicated to his people and there was a joy about him,” said Msgr. Bernard Schmitz, who had known Father Mucha since his own ordination in 1974 and more recently within his former role as Vicar for Clergy.

“I admired his joy and simplicity,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He seemed to have no guile and what you saw is what you got. He was very proud of his Polish heritage and was unafraid to be Polish.”

Father Mucha’s move to the United States came about after he visited St. Joseph Polish while on vacation. The pastor at the time was sick, and parishioners asked Father Mucha to stay.

After receiving approval from his superiors in Poland and the archbishop in Denver, Father Mucha did stay, and ended up serving the parish for nearly four decades.

“He was happy to serve here,” said Father Ciesla. “All the time, he was a man of faith. He kept his eye on Jesus.”

Msgr. Schmitz believes Father Mucha’s faithfulness and tenacity as a priest will leave a lasting impression on those he served.

“He was dedicated to the priesthood and didn’t want to retire until he was sure his people would be well taken care of,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He could come across as tough, but really he was a compassionate person [with] a heart open to the Lord’s work.”