Friday, December 1, 2006

'He walked in tandem with Jesus' - - Sioux Falls Diocese says goodbye to its sixth leader

Barb Crayne grew up in Minneapolis, where a young Rev. Paul Dudley officiated at her first communion and visited her high school. She hadn't seen him since her junior year at Regina High School when, in the late 1970s, he walked out of the board room at McKennan Hospital, where Crayne worked in administration."He walked up to my desk, and he called me by name, he remembered me," Crayne said. "I just looked at him, and I said, 'Father Dudley?' and he said, 'Yeah, Barb, it's me.' It was like an old-home reunion."

Crayne recalled her longtime connection to the Roman Catholic priest Thursday, just minutes before a memorial Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral for the man who led the Diocese of Sioux Falls from 1978 to 1995.

Bishop Dudley died Nov. 20 in a St. Paul hospital of a lung ailment. He was 79 and the sixth bishop of the Sioux Falls Diocese. His funeral service was Wednesday in St. Paul with burial in a Northfield, Minn., cemetery.

Bishop Paul Swain, who was ordained as the eighth leader of the Sioux Falls Diocese in October, said Wednesday's funeral Mass was a joy-filled event. He described it to the 150 people at the memorial Mass as "the celebration of a wonderful life lived well."

At the cemetery earlier in the week, one of the Bishop's nieces recalled a conversation that reflected his love of his adopted state, Swain told the Sioux Falls audience. She said, of Minnesota, "We're in God's country," and he replied, "No, God's country is South Dakota," Swain said. As a person, as a priest and as a bishop, he set a high standard, Bishop Swain said.

John Dudley, the last survivor of the bishop's nine siblings, described his brother as a great person."Everybody just thought so much of him," he said of his younger brother. Their parents were proud that two of their six sons chose religious life, but they never pushed them into the priesthood, John Dudley said. "I think he had the idea he wanted to be a priest when he was very, very young," said Pat Dudley, John's wife.

A display of photos outside the sanctuary at St. Joseph Cathedral showed black-and-white photos of a young priest and followed him as he matured. One showed him on the front steps of a trailer home on the Dudley family farm near Northfield, where he retired.

The Rev. Greg Tschakert, who serves a parish in Aberdeen, was the Bishop's chancellor. He described the late bishop as a man of prayer."In Bishop Paul Dudley, we recognize the image of Jesus, the servant priest," Father Tschakert said. "Like Jesus, Bishop Dudley was a man who based his whole life on a life of prayer. ... He took seriously the words of Jesus, and he walked in tandem with Jesus."

Bishop Dudley had a natural optimism and an upbeat attitude, but through his prayer, he lived a life of hope that sprang from a deeper place, said Father Tschakert, who was ordained by Bishop Dudley. He found the chancery stifling and welcomed any chance to visit the parish and participate in its life, Father Tschakert said. He had an immense capacity for patience. And when someone would criticize a priest, Bishop Dudley would point out that even the apostles weren't perfect, so it was unfair to expect that of priests.

He also was particularly supportive of life issues, such as the hungry, the homeless, the disabled, sick and elderly, Father Tschakert said. He helped establish agencies to help them. But perhaps his greatest passion was "concern for the unborn and the scandal of abortion," Father Tschakert said."He prayed fervently for a change in minds and hearts." Sioux Falls Argus Leader

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