February 24 is Bishop Michael Dudick's birthday. In 1977 we were under the impression that Bishop was born on Feb 23rd - which date, in his honor, became our Foundation Day. A happy error which provided two special days.

The following are incidents from the years when, having retired, Bishop resided at Holy Annunciation as our Chaplain.

Early days:

Bishop's dialogues with Sisters

Bishop: "I was a great man." Sister: "Bishop, you still are a great man." Bishop: "No, not now, but I was."

Bishop: (on the eve of her profession) "Are you happy?" Sister: "Yes, very happy".  Bishop: "When you are young it is easy to be happy. When old, you must choose to be happy. You must say 'God wants me to be happy. I choose to be happy. I can see flowers, the sky, etc.'"

Every Easter Monday Bishop came for dinner with the Sisters, bringing with him a huge chocolate Easter Bunny.

Bishop loved our animals, calling Temair "My dog".  Temair allowed Bishop  to rub his ears, something not tolerated from others!

Our first miniature donkey arrived; he absolutely refused to leave the trailer. Bishop was present and we asked his help. Maybe an episcopal blessing? Bishop stood before the ramp, looked at Jeremino with authority and said: "PROCEED". Immediately Jeremino walked down the ramp and off to the barn!

After any celebration or festivity Bishop would invariably remark: "We must do this more often."

In 2003 seventy Carmelite Nuns and the Superior General would visit our Monastery. We planned a Dance of Welcome with roses and candles, choreographed by  our Sister from India, and seven Sisters practiced the dance in our Church Hall. One day Bishop peeked in the windows and later inquired: "Sister, what did you do today?" Sister replied with a list of duties but left out the dance practice. Bishop insisted: "What else?" adding:  "I know what you did", and he proceeded to dance, imitating what he saw by holding an imaginary candle. A never to be forgotten hilarious moment!
Bishop could not resist a sale. Once when a celebration was planned he bought, day after day, quite a bit of chinaware, remarking: "It was on sale".

One summer, Bishop brought grapes and watermelons to men engaged by us for some construction. The men remarked that they never ate more grapes than that summer.

Bishop loved Christmas. Soon after Philip's Fast began (November 15th) the Christmas decorations were in process- and with sorrow he parted with them as Cheese Fare Sunday approached.

Hallowe'en was his joy- not to mention the joy of youngsters who came to his door. No wonder! Along with candy was a dollar bill.

In later years although Bishop's mind was clear, he forgot names, substituting his own way of identification. It was unique but quite reliable, once we caught on.

Vince O'Brien, Bishop's brother-in-law, trusted friend, chauffeur, and companion when away from the Monastery, became "husband".  Bishop's confessor: "teacher"; Mother Marija: "Number One";  Mother Marie Helen: "Number Two"; Sister Mary: "the tall one"; Sister Therese: "the short one";  Sister Emmanuel: "the strong one"; Ed Poli, lay Eucharistic minister: "the priest" …most flattering to that gentleman.

After his pathological hip fracture and replacement, Bishop was anxious. He returned in Holy Week and his first Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday was wonderful. His voice, weak at first, grew stronger and his memory was on target.  Leaving the church he was aglow: "I can do it! I do not have to retire."

The Divine Liturgy was always on his mind. One summer night the Monastery doorbell rang at 1AM. Bishop thought it was time for Liturgy!

He attended Vespers daily. One day he would not come, because (as he told Sister who came to bring him to the Chapel) "Number One and Number Two are not home yet".  Mother and Sister left via our front drive. Evidently he had been watching  from his front window, but they returned via the back driveway.

Sugarloaf is out-of-the way so possibly this was the reason few clergy visited him (save Father John  Zeyack). But on his 90th birthday Bishop Pataki came with a small group of priests. Bishop Michael was  completely overcome with emotion and  happiness.  One priest asked, "Bishop, do you remember me?" To which Bishop Michael replied: "How could I forget you!  I hold you all in my heart". The next day Bishop was emotionally drained, so much so that a family gathering was cancelled, and from then on his strength waned. It was as if a last longing was fulfilled.

Very often in his years here, when something  painful to him would occur, Bishop would "offer it for my priests" or  say that in trial, "we must work our way to heaven". He never spoke of what afflicted him, although we could surmise a bit.

Bishop's last Christmas dinner with us was memorable. (He died the following May). We sang Christmas carols- he had a good voice and loved to sing. He wanted one more, the last song- and chose O Heavenly King. We recalled this as he died on Pentecost Wednesday a few months later.

Near death his agony seemed, to us, quite prolonged. Every night one of our Sister's (each a nurse) alternated in keeping vigil. He lingered on. M Marija suggested: "Sisters, you both want to be there when he dies. Tonight both of you stay with Bishop." He died that very night with Mother Marie Helen and Sister Therese praying at his side.

As Bishop Michael requested, he was reposed in our Chapel before going to the Cathedral in Passaic.  Seeing a white veil behind her Mother Marija supposed it was a Sister-novice.  But that moment Bishop Pataki approached to greet  the  white veiled  Orthodox Metropolitan.  We heard him say: "I had to come for my good friend Bishop Michael".

Bishop: "Tomorrow's feast is the Smarty and the Dummy."  Sister: "Who's that?"  Bishop: "The Publican and the Pharisee".