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 shock of forgiveness

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Every so often, the media will pick up a story that serves as a potent reminder of what it means to be a Christian. That’s because living as a Christian in today’s post-Christian society is an unusual way of living, contrary to what the rest of society might say about it. It is not “outdated.” It is not “irrelevant.” It is radical, countercultural and, to some, even incomprehensible.

On Oct. 2, the trial of Amber Guyger came to a close. Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was charged with the murder of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old man who lived in the same apartment complex as Guyger. On Sept. 6, 2018, she walked into Jean’s apartment, thinking it was hers, saw Jean sitting there on the couch, and after giving verbal commands, shot him twice, killing him. It was an absolute tragedy and played into the ongoing national conversation about police behavior toward people of color (Guyger is white; Jean is black).

What I want to focus on is a particular moment that came at the end of Guyger’s trial, after she had been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Jean’s younger brother Brandt took to the witness stand to address his brother’s killer directly. He wasn’t planning on saying anything during the trial but changed his mind at the last minute. A prompting of the Holy Spirit? I think yes, based on what happened next.

“I hope you go to God with all the guilt, all the bad things you may have done in the past,” Brandt told Guyger. “If you are truly sorry … I forgive you. If you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.” He continued, “I’m not going to say I hope you die … I personally want the best for you … I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you, because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want … and the best would be: give your life to Christ. Giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do.”

But it didn’t stop there. Brandt was bold enough to ask the judge if he had permission to give Guyger a hug. He was granted it, and they embraced for over a minute, Guyger weeping into Brandt’s shoulder, just as some of us might do were we to be embraced by Christ.

Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean hugs former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement to her in Dallas, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Guyger has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her black neighbor in his apartment, which she said she mistook for her own unit one floor below. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

Brandt has every reason to hate Guyger. This woman gunned down his innocent brother who had his whole life ahead of him and was given a lighter sentence than what she originally faced. Those in the courtroom and watching on TV wouldn’t have been shocked to hear Brandt tell Guyger that he hopes she rots in hell. No, the shock from those in the courtroom – and subsequently, the rest of the nation – came when Brandt did the exact opposite.

With those words and the simple act of embracing his brother’s killer, Brandt gave the world an incredible witness to the forgiveness Christ calls us to live as Christians. Of course, you can count on the bickering voices of social media and pundits to take this powerful moment and exploit it for their own agenda, but that’s because many of them don’t understand. It is not normal in our culture to forgive. It is also not easy. And that’s what makes witnessing something like this so shocking. It was not supposed to happen, but it did. It defied every expectation. Make no mistake about it: Brandt was living his call to be more like Christ in that moment. And it is exactly this moment – this shocking moment – that we are able to get a glimpse of what it is to be a Christian.

Following Jesus does make for quite a shock. And it is that shock that we are called to bring to the rest of the world, just as Brandt Jean did.