Bio - Fr Chris Zugger
Fr Christopher L. Zugger was born in Buffalo, NY, in 1954, one of three children of a policeman and accountant. While attending Roman Catholic and public schools, he was drawn to the Byzantine Catholic Church, and was an active parishioner of St Mary Mission in Olean NY while attending St. Bonaventure University and also at the mother church of St Stephen in Amherst (now closed). He transferred to the Byzantine Church from the Latin Church in 1977.
A student at Washington Theological Union and Catholic University in Washington DC, he was ordained a priest for the eparchy of Passaic in 1981. His service as a seminarian and deacon included the Office of Religious Education, Young Adult Ministry, and the parishes of St Gregory of Nyssa (Beltsville, MD 1977-81), SS. Peter and Paul (Elizabeth NJ, 1979) and St Thomas (Rahway, NJ 1979-81). Although assigned to St Thomas as parochial vicar in 1981, serious health issues forced a medical transfer to the drier Southwest and service at St Stephen (Phoenix, AZ), where he became the founding pastor at St. Thomas in Gilbert, AZ in 1982-85. In 1985 he was assigned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help "for a couple of years." Missions were attended in Las Cruces (1985-95) and Santa Fe (1990-92) while pastor. He supervised the reduction of the parish's large debt, purchase of a rectory (1988) and catechism house (1998), and construction of the expanded church and hall, which were dedicated in 1998, while publishing The Forgotten: Catholics in the Soviet Empire (2001).
Since the 1990s, Father Chris has run the Mission Society of the Mother of God of Boronyavo, which raises money to help with the restoration of the Byzantine Catholic Church in the original homelands of East Slovakia and Transcarpathian Ukraine. Money raised goes to the support of seminarians, priests, sisters, an orphanage and to the construction of new churches in the Archeparchy of Presov and the Eparchy of Mukachevo.
In 2008 Fr. Chris had to take a medical retirement as the same health issues worsened, but Bishop Gerald asked him to stay on in Albuquerque. Since then, he has served as a confessor, spiritual director, and priests' mentor. In 2006 he presented a paper, Catholics in the Gulag at Boston College (published in Religion, Human Rights and the Gulag) and published Finding A Hidden Church: The Underground Life of the Eparchy of Mukachevo in the USSR (2009). His blog is at www.frchriszugger.com.