Paul Dudzic named Chief Development Officer for archdiocese

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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: The Vatican’s Choice: Jimmy Lai or Xi Jinping?

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In mid-May, Chinese leader Xi Jinping unveiled a plan to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and impose draconian new “national security” laws on the former British colony. Putatively intended to defend Hong Kong from “secessionists,” “terrorists,” and “foreign influence,” these new measures are in fact designed to curb the brave men and women of Hong Kong’s vibrant pro-democracy movement, who have been aggravating the Beijing totalitarians for a long time. With the world distracted by the Wuhan virus (which the Chinese government’s clumsiness and prevarication did much to globalize), the ever-more-brutal Xi Jinping regime evidently thinks that this is the moment to crack down even harder on those in Hong Kong who cherish freedom and try to defend it.

This latest display of Beijing’s intent to enforce communist power in Hong Kong coincides with the most recent persecution of my friend, Jimmy Lai.

Jimmy and I have only met once. But I have long felt a kinship with this fellow-Catholic, a convert who first put his considerable wealth to work in support of important Catholic activities and who is now risking all in support of the pro-democracy movement in Kong Kong. Arrested in February, and then again in April, Jimmy Lai has been charged with helping organize and lead “unauthorized protests.” That he was in the front ranks of pro-democracy demonstrations is true. The question is, why do the Chinese communists regard peaceful protest in support of freedoms Beijing solemnly promised to protect as treasonous?

In late May, the thugs in Beijing tightened the ratchet of repression another notch: Jimmy Lai’s case was transferred to a court that could give the 72-year old a five-year sentence, or even consecutive sentences. But what else could be expected from a regime that was already trying to bankrupt Lai’s pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, by pressuring both Chinese and international firms to stop buying advertising space there? Shamefully, far too many have kowtowed to those pressures, and a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed article reported that Apple Daily is now cut off from 65% of the Hong Kong advertising market. Meanwhile, Beijing, while trying to reassure the business community that everything will be just fine, warns business leaders (as well as diplomats and journalists) not to “join the anti-China forces in stigmatizing or demonizing” the new national security laws.

The Xi Jinping regime may be less stable than it wants the world to think it is. Secure regimes do not increase repression, as Beijing has done for several years now. Moreover, labeling all criticism of the Xi Jinping government as “anti-China” is not the play a regime confident about its legitimacy and stability would make. Such tactics seem clumsy; they bespeak sweaty nervousness, not calm self-assurance.

The attempt to break the Hong Kong democracy movement is one facet of a broader campaign of repression that has not spared Chinese religious communities on the mainland. One million Muslim Uyghurs remain penned in Xinjiang concentration camps, where they are being “educated.” Protestant house churches are under constant threat. And repressive measures continue to be taken against Catholics and their churches, despite the almost two-year old (and still secret) agreement between the Holy See and Beijing. That agreement, which gave the Chinese communist party a lead role in the nomination of bishops, looks ever more like one in which the Vatican gave away a great deal in return for hollow promises; Chinese Catholics who do not toe the party line as the Chinese communist party defines that line are still persecuted. The effects of this sorry affair on the Church’s evangelical mission in the China of the future – hopefully, a post-communist China – will not be positive.

Around the world, voices have been raised in support of Hong Kong’s brave pro-democracy demonstrators. Has the Holy See’s voice been heard? If so, I missed it and so did many others. Are strong representations in favor of religious freedom and other basic human rights being made by Vatican officials behind the scenes in Beijing and Rome? One might hope so. But if the Holy See’s current China policy is in fact a reprise of its failed Ostpolitik in central and eastern Europe during the 1970s, those representations are more likely tepid and wholly ineffectual.

With one of its most courageous Catholic sons now in the dock and facing what could be life-threatening imprisonment, the Vatican now faces a defining choice: Jimmy Lai or Xi Jinping?