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Adamec, Bishop Emeritus, dies at 83

Former leader of Altoona-Johnstown Diocese served from 1987-2011

Mirror file photo / Bishop Joseph Adamec performs duties at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

From Mirror staff reports

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Most Rev. Joseph V. Adamec, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, died unexpectedly Wednesday.

He was 83 years old.

Adamec was born in Bannister, Mich., on Aug. 13, 1935, the son of the late Michael and Alzbeta (Ochran) Adamec, both immigrants from Slovakia. He attended Michigan State University and studied for the priesthood at the Pontifical Nepomucene College in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on July 3, 1960. The following year, he completed studies and was awarded a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University.

Adamec was ordained for the Diocese of Nitra, Slovakia — the native diocese of his parents.

The severe political situation in Czechoslovakia — of which Slovakia was then a part — prevented him from fulfilling his desire to serve the church in the land of his family. Instead, he returned to the United States and began his ministry in his home diocese of Saginaw, Mich.

After serving in several parishes in the 1960s, Adamec was appointed to various diocesan positions, including Chancellor, Secretary to the Bishop and Master of Ceremonies.

In 1977, he was appointed pastor of St. Hyacinth Parish in Bay City, Mich., and in 1984, he became pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Saginaw.

The following year, he was named Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor.

Adamec was ordained a bishop on May 20, 1987, at the Cathe­dral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona, and installed as the seventh Bishop of Altoona-Johns­town.

Among his early priorities were Liturgical renewal, lay ministry formation and continued development of the Permanent Dia­conate.

Aware of the declining pop­ulation, changes to the so­cial landscape, aging church properties and decreasing vocations to the priesthood, the bishop created a committee to study parish reconfiguration and establish a comprehensive plan to prepare for the resulting pastoral challenges.

The full plan called for the gradual clustering, merging and closing of parishes to better position the diocese moving into the next century. It was presented to the clergy in 1994 and was given unanimous support. Implementation of the plan began in 1995.

Throughout his years as bishop, Adamec celebrated and promoted the spiritual legacy of Father Demetrius Gallitzin in the life of the church of Altoona-Johns­town. Father Gallitzin was a Russian prince who gave up his noble title in the late 1700s to be a priest in America and ultimately minister to the faithful in the Allegheny Mountains.

In 1990, Adamec instituted the Prince Gallitzin Cross Award, which annually recognized clergy, religious and laity who exhibit the “evangelizing spirit” of Father Gallitzin. In 2001, he began investigating the launch of a formal Cause for Canonization for Father Gallitzin, an effort which advanced to Rome in 2013 and continues to the present day.

Adamec retired as Bish­op of the Diocese of Al­toona-Johnstown on Jan. 14, 2011, and was appointed administrator of the diocese until the ordination and installation of his successor, Bishop Mark L. Bartchak, on April 19, 2011. Adamec was the longest-serving bishop of Altoona-Johns­town. Since his retirement, he resided in Hollidays­burg.

Besides his parents, Adamec was preceded in death by a brother, Edward Adamec of Florida. He is survived by nephew, Michael Adamec, and wife, Linda, in Florida; niece, Cathy Barone, of Tennes­see; a special relative in Slovakia, Anna Skratek; and beloved friend, Elaine Cicotello, of Hollidaysburg.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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