The son and grandson of Byzantine Catholic priests, Thomas Victor Dolinay was born to Paňi Yolanda Dobra and Father Julius Dolinay in Uniontown, Pennsylvania on July 24, 1923. He attended the public schools of Struthers, Ohio and Uniontown, and graduated in 1941. He then studied at St. Procopius College in Lisle, Illinois, and upon receiving his degree in 1945, entered the Benedictine Seminary, completing his theological studies in 1948. On May 16, 1948, Bishop Daniel Ivancho ordained him to the priesthood in the monastery chapel of the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown, Pa.
For the next 18 years, Father Thomas was assigned to pastorates at several parishes in the eparchies of Pittsburgh and Passaic. With his long-time interest in journalism, he served as the first managing editor of Pittsburgh’s The Byzantine Catholic World and the first editor of Passaic’s Eastern Catholic Life. In 1966, he became a papal chamberlain and was given the title Monsignor.
On November 23, 1976, Monsignor Thomas was elevated to become the first auxiliary bishop of the Eparchy of Passaic. His ordination was held at St. Peter (Latin) Catholic Cathedral in Scranton, Pa. As an auxiliary to Bishop Michael Dudick, Bishop Thomas held a number of administrative tasks including that of serving as the vicar for both the Hungarian churches and for the parishes in the Anthracite Region of Pennsylvania.
On March 9, 1982, when the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Van Nuys was canonically established, Bishop Thomas was enthroned as its first Bishop by Metropolitan Archbishop Stephen. The impressive ceremonies were held at St. Cyril of Alexandria (Latin) Catholic Church in Encino, California. Archbishop Pio Laghi, the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, read the papal decrees, and Timothy Cardinal Manning, the Archbishop of Los Angeles and a great friend of the Eastern Churches, was the homilist. Thirty Latin and Eastern Catholic Bishops and over one thousand clergy, religious and faithful attended the ceremonies.
As the new shepherd of a small and faraway flock, Bishop Thomas, with the assistance of the eparchial officials, laid the groundwork for the new eparchy that would be spiritually strong and materially viable. Despite the great distances between the twelve parishes and three missions stretching from Anchorage, Alaska to Albuquerque, New Mexico, he began with enthusiasm to visit his flock of three thousand. Growth was slow, but was spurred in part by the influx of new parishioners from diverse ethnic backgrounds who found spiritual homes in the Byzantine Catholic Churches. During his tenure as bishop, one church was closed, five missions became parishes, and six missions were established.
His eparchy became the first to provide an annual clergy week which brought the priests together for continuing education as well as for strengthening their unity and fellowship.
Utilizing his previous experiences, Bishop Thomas founded the Van Nuys Eparchial Newsletter that served well in providing information and news about the eparchy to his geographically dispersed faithful.
With the retirement of Archbishop Stephen Kocisko imminent, Pope John Paul II relieved Bishop Thomas of his responsibilities as Bishop of Van Nuys in 1990 and named him Coadjutor Archbishop of Pittsburgh with the right of succession. He was enthroned at St. Paul Cathedral there on May 29 of that year. On June 12, 1991, he succeeded the retiring Archbishop Stephen as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh.
In addition to his archieparchial duties, he served as the spiritual advisor and editor for The United Societies and was a member of the board of trustees of Catholic Golden Age from its earliest days.
Archbishop Thomas fell asleep in the Lord unexpectedly in his sleep at his residence of an apparent heart attack during Bright Week on April 13, 1993. He was 69. His funeral liturgy was celebrated in Holy Spirit Church in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh by Auxiliary Bishop John Bilock. Concelebrants were Bishop Michael Dudick of Passaic, Bishop Andrew Pataki of Parma, and his close friends Monsignor Michael Hrebin of Clairton and Monsignor George Billy of Linden, New Jersey. Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel also was in attendance; Archbishop Thomas had baptized the Lieutenant Governor when he was pastor of St. Mary Church in Johnstown, Pa. Metropolitan Thomas was laid to rest in the bishops’ section of Mount St. Macrina Cemetery in Uniontown.