John Michael Bilock was born to Michael and Anna (Timko) Bilock in McAdoo, Pennsylvania on June 20, 1916. After being graduated from the public schools in McAdoo, he pursued his collegiate and theological studies at St. Procopius College and Seminary in Lisle, Illinois. On February 3, 1946, Bishop Basil Takach ordained him to the priesthood in the bishop’s private chapel in Munhall, Pa.
In addition to serving as a parish priest, Father John was given a wide variety of special assignments. While he was assistant pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Hazleton, Pa., he was appointed Director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Sodality Union. In 1950, after his appointment as pastor of St. John Chrysostom Parish in the famed “Rus’ska Dolina” (Rusyn valley) neighborhood in the Greenfield section of the City of Pittsburgh, he was appointed Notary of the Matrimonial Tribunal. In 1953, he was named choral administrator of the Western Pennsylvania Byzantine Catholic Chorus.
In 1955, Bishop Nicholas Elko chose Father John as his personal secretary, secretary to the Board of Consultors and a member of the Diocesan Building Commission. One year later, he was appointed to the Board of Consultors. On May 7, 1957, Pope Pius XII named him a papal chamberlain with the title of Monsignor.
On September 12, 1963, Monsignor John became Rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall. There, he upgraded and improved all of the church properties, paid off the parish’s indebtedness and generally reinvigorated its spiritual life. On July 15, 1969, Archbishop Stephen Kocisko appointed him Vicar General of the Archeparchy. Also in 1969, he was made a prelate of honor by Pope Paul VI.
On March 8, 1973, Pope Paul VI named him as Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Stephen. He was ordained to the episcopacy on May 15, 1973 at Holy Spirit Church in Pittsburgh.
As auxiliary bishop, Bishop John used his organizational skills to plan and coordinate most of the Archeparchy’s events, activities and major functions. Some of these which he chaired or coordinated included the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh; the annual Byzantine Catholic Family Day at Pittsburgh’s Kennywood Park; the annual St. Nicholas Day Banquet and the Labor Day weekend pilgrimage at Mount St. Macrina in Uniontown. Besides these events, he also organized and personally led numerous pilgrimages from the Archeparchy to such places as the Holy Land, Rome, numerous Marian shrines in Europe and finally, to the ancestral homeland of American Byzantine Catholics in Slovakia and Ukraine.
Bishop John also pioneered the use of the media to develop a new Byzantine Catholic apostolate. Through his efforts, the Divine Liturgy was broadcast live every Sunday to a radio audience of thousands, and gradually this apostolate was expanded to include locally televised Divine Liturgies and other services.
When Archbishop Thomas Dolinay fell asleep in the Lord in April of 1993, Bishop John, despite his declining health, accepted the unanimous selection of the Board of Consultors to become the Administrator of the Archeparchy. He served in this capacity until he fell asleep in the Lord on September 8, 1994. His funeral was celebrated at St. John Cathedral in Munhall on Tuesday, September 13, and he was laid to rest in the bishops’ section of Mount St. Macrina Cemetery in Uniontown, Pa.