Berard Dudek, Franciscan friar and pastor

The Rev. Berard Dudek, a Franciscan friar who was the former pastor of the old St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in Fells Point, died of lung disease Sunday at the rectory of the Rosedale parish where he served. He was 89.

Born Charles Druzd in Baltimore and raised in Canton, he was the son of Martin Druzd, a crane operator, and his wife Catherine, a cannery worker. The family later changed its named to Dudek. His grandparents were of Polish and Russian ancestry.

He left Baltimore at 14 after completing the eighth grade at St. Casimir School in Canton. In a memoir, he said he first thought of joining the religious life while in the third grade.

He became a boarding student at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y., where he graduated in 1945. That same year, he entered St. Lawrence Novitiate of the Franciscan Friars Conventual in Becket, Mass. He received the religious name Berard, for St. Berard of Carbio, a 13th-century Franciscan martyr.

Father Dudek professed his vows in 1946 and was ordained a priest in 1954. He earned a degree from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y., and studied at St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby, Mass., and the St. Joseph Cupertino Friary at Folly Quarter in Howard County. Throughout his life, he wore the traditional black friars' robes of his order.

Father Dudek taught at Bishop Ryan High School in Buffalo, N.Y., from 1954 to 1971. He was also the school's principal for a year.

He was then assigned to St. Casimir's parish in Southeast Baltimore from 1971 to 1976. He was next named pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish on South Ann Street in Fells Point and held that post until 1982.

During his tenure at the Fells Point church, a six-alarm fire in 1978 destroyed the parish hall on Aliceanna Street.

"It's a grand old lady passing out of existence," he said in a Baltimore Sun article about the blaze.

That same year, he was also quoted in The Sun when the Polish-born Pope John Paul II was elected in Vatican City.

"Some people thought Italians would be the popes forever," he said. "But the church is universal and the faith of Poland has been very strong, despite what it's been through."

In 1978 he was pictured in The Sun for a feature article about the Old World traditions associated with Polish weddings. The article noted the numerous Baltimore couples he had married.

"Everybody loved him because he was easy to get along with," said Irving C. J. Porter, a Kenwood Avenue resident. "He was open for talks, and he never failed to ask about your family and your work."

In 1982, Father Dudek then joined the staff of the Basilica of the Assumption in downtown Baltimore as an associate pastor. He also taught religion at Archbishop Curley High School from 1982 to 1984.

In 1985, his fellow friars elected him to help lead their work in the eastern U.S. He was named vicar provincial of the St. Anthony of Padua province for three years.

He then worked in parishes in Shamokin, Pa., Riverside, N.J., and Auburn, N.Y.

"He was one of the friendliest persons you could find," said Joe Imbierowicz, a lifelong South Lakewood Avenue resident. "He was quiet-spoken. He was a true Franciscan. He owned two coats. Someone came to the door one day and said he was cold. Father Berard gave him the one he had hanging there."

He also recalled that Father Dudek had a sweet tooth and liked homemade walnut cookies. "I once tried to teach him how to bake," said Mr. Imbierowicz. "He was a good eater but not a good baker."

In 1995, Father dudek took a sabbatical and traveled to Italy to visit the sites associated with St. Francis of Assisi.

He also served a year as pastor of St. Casimir's parish in Canton in 1996.

Father Dudek retired in 2005 and settled in Rosedale at the St. Clement Mary Hofbauer Friary maintained by his religious order.

"Throughout his life he was an engaging person and loved to meet new people," said the Rev. Donald Grzymski, a fellow Franciscan who is president of Archbishop Curley High School. "He often took pictures of those he had met, and he cultivated many friends who visited with him and shared lunches."

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Casimir Roman Catholic Church, Kenwood Avenue and O'Donnell Street in Canton.

Survivors include nieces and nephews.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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