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Joseph Victor Adamec is Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

Personal life

Adamec was born on August 13, 1935, in Bannister, Michigan, and baptized in the village church of St. Cyril on September 1, 1935. His parents immigrated from Slovakia, his father Michal in 1913 and his mother Alzbeta in 1921. As his father made his way to Michigan, he worked in various coal mines, including one at Scalp Level, Pennsylvania. During that time, he attended Mass at SS. Cyril and Methodius Church in Windber, within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

His early education took place at various public schools, starting with a one-room country school house. These included Ashley High School, during which time he served as president of his class for three of the four years and graduated Valedictorian in 1953. During his two years at Michigan State University, studying journalism and foreign languages, he served as co-editor of the dormitory newspaper.

The decision to study for the priesthood was facilitated by his contact while at Michigan State University with the now Jozef Cardinal Tomko, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who at the time was Vice Rector/Economo of the Pontifical Nepomucene College in Rome. There he studied for six years, earning a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University. He was ordained by Aloysius Cardinal Traglia in the Church of Saint Anselm in Rome on July 3, 1960, for the former diocese of his parents, the Diocese of Nitra in Slovakia.

Following the completion of his studies, Father Adamec returned to Michigan where he served his home diocese of Saginaw in various capacities. He filled a number of positions under three Diocesan Bishops and one Bishop-Administrator. After serving as Assistant Pastor in three different parishes, he became a Notary of the Diocese of Saginaw under Bishop Stephen S. Woznicki in 1965, fulfilling responsibilities of Assistant Chancellor, Secretary to the Bishop, and Master of Ceremonies. He continued in that position under Auxiliary Bishop Aloysius A. Hickey (now Cardinal Archbishop of Washington D.C.). Bishop Francis F. Reh appointed him Secretary to the Bishop and Master of Ceremonies with residence at the Bishop's House in 1969. Two and one half years later, he became Chancellor of the Diocese, having charge of the diocesan offices, which position he held for six years.

In 1977, he was appointed Pastor of Saint Hyacinth Church in Bay City, Michigan, and served that 1300 family parish for almost 7 years. Besides being Pastor of the parish Catholic grade school of 400 students, he also served as Pastor of All Saints Catholic Central High School during his later years in Bay City. He assumed the pastorate of SS. Peter and Paul Parish with 1100 families in Saginaw, along with its Catholic grade school, in 1984.

In 1980 he was the recipient of the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" medal. This decoration is awarded in recognition of service to the Church and Pope, dating back to 1888 and Pope Leo XIII. The Holy Father named him a Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor in 1985.

During his 9 year, two parish pastoral experience, he had worked with five associate pastors, along with other staff, and supervised four priest interns in their formation for the ordained ministry. Twice he was elected by the priests of the diocese to serve the six member Diocesan Personnel Board, having been associated with that body by appointment or election from its establishment. He served on the diocesan priests' committee advising the Diocesan Office of Education/Formation and served as coordinator of the diocesan celebrations commemorating the 50th priestly anniversary of retired Bishop Francis Reh.

Bishop Adamec was elected National President of the Slovak Catholic Federation by the Slovak Catholic community of United States and Canada in 1971, which position he held for seventeen years until his resignation. This organization, founded in 1911 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, federates major Slovak, Catholic fraternal societies, the Conference of Slovak Religious, comprising 13 religious communities, the Conference of Slovak Clergy in the United States, and numerous other organizations and individuals. He is currently its episcopal moderator. The organization has as its purpose the addressing of common religious/pastoral concerns of Slovak Catholics in the United States. He is also a member of the Slovak League of America and is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

His family consists of one brother, two nephews, two nieces (one of whom is deceased), and a number of grand nephews and nieces. Bishop Adamec's father died in 1984 on his 97th birthday and his mother in 1991 at the age of 97. He has numerous cousins of various degrees in the Republic of Slovakia.

Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown

Monsignor Joseph V. Adamec was named Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown on March 12, 1987. His Appointment was made public on March 17, 1987. He was consecrated on May 20, 1987, in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament at Altoona, Pennsylvania by Jozef Cardinal Tomko.

The diocese is located in the Allegheny Mountains of Central-Western Pennsylvania. It is one of 8 Latin Rite dioceses in the Philadelphia Ecclesial Province, comprising 8 counties covering 6,674 square miles (17,290 km2) with a total population of over 650,000, 20% of whom are Roman Catholics.

Bishop Adamec is fluent in four languages: English, Latin, Slovak, and Italian, while understanding several others. Among his interests are photography, sailing, model trains, and writing.

The Bishop is a former member of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and served as a member of their Joint Committee of Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bishops.

Under Bishop Joseph's stewardship as the overseer of the Diocesan Church of Altoona-Johnstown, several milestones of growth have taken place.

  • Liturgical renewal was adopted.
  • The permanent diaconate was revitalized.
  • A Lay Ministry Formation Office was established.
  • Directives for marriage preparation were issued.
  • Responsibilities of the diocesan administrative offices were adjusted.
  • Guidelines for parish and finance councils were issued.
  • A Diocesan Finance Council was established.
  • The structure of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council was revised.
  • Deaneries were restructured and the role of deans was redefined.
  • The Foundation for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown was established.
  • A continued effort for a sound economic base affecting the three diocesan Catholic high schools has taken place.
  • A diocesan office for youth ministry was established.
  • Religious education programs are continually being strengthened.
  • A process of preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation at a later age has been put into effect.

Among his pastoral activities, the Bishop makes annual visitations within the Diocese not only to the parishes, but to the correctional institutions (six state and one federal), the seven college and university campuses, the three diocesan high schools, and a number of other institutions. He is involved on a regular basis in co-sponsoring two annual ecumenical services with the Orthodox and Lutheran Bishops. The three Bishops issued a document of expectations to assist pastors when they deal with individuals of different religious traditions who are preparing for marriage.

In 1994, Bishop Joseph began a process leading to parish reconfiguration and priest redistribution. After extensive consultation, decisions led to merging some parishes and clustering others.

Beginning in 2001, Bishop Joseph began hosting a weekly segment on Proclaim! called Can We Talk?, where Bishop Joseph interviews religious from across the region about a wide variety of issues and stories. He is also interviewed on the segment once a month and answers questions about what is going on through the diocese and the Catholic world.

Flowing from his motto "The Household of God," Bishop Joseph focuses on establishing a sense of community within the Diocesan Church.



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