The Most Reverend Paul A. Zipfel, 83, passed away on July 14, 2019, at Mother of Good Counsel Home in St. Louis, Missouri.
Bishop Zipfel was born to Albert Zipfel and Leona Rau on September 22, 1935 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended St. Michael the Archangel Elementary School in Shrewsbury, Missouri throughout the 1940s. God’s call to the priesthood came to him through the grace of his parents and family, parish priests and the School Sisters of Notre Dame who taught him at St. Michael’s School. He attended St. Louis Preparatory Seminary for six years and completed his college training at Kenrick Seminary in 1957. He was chosen to attend Catholic University in Washington, D.C. where he received his licentiate in Sacred Theology. After ordination to the priesthood by Joseph Cardinal Ritter on March 18, 1961, he pursued graduate studies at St. Louis University and received his Master of Arts in Education in 1965. His first appointment was Associate Pastor at St. Simon the Apostle Parish and part-time teacher at Bishop DuBourg High School. For the next six years, he was the part-time Associate Pastor at Ascension Parish in Normandy. For one year, he taught at Laboure High School.
His graduate degree prepared him for teaching and counseling in the high schools of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In 1968 he received his certification as a secondary school principal and he became administrator of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florissant and remained in that position until 1971. During his time at St. Thomas Aquinas, he served as part-time Associate Pastor for one year at North American Martyrs Parish and one year as part-time Associate Pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel.
His desire to return to parish ministry was finally realized when he became an Associate Pastor at Holy Cross Parish in Baden. He became Pastor of the parish in 1976 when Monsignor Martin Hellriegel could not continue his pastorate after nearly 40 years of priestly service at Holy Cross. In 1982 he was appointed Pastor of Holy Family Parish in South St. Louis where he served for six years. After one year as Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in St. Charles, Missouri, he was chosen by Pope John Paul II to be ordained to the Episcopacy on June 29, 1989. He was in residence at Mary, Queen of Peace rectory from 1989-1996, serving at the Catholic Center as Vicar General.
On December 31, 1996, Bishop Zipfel was appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as the Bishop of Bismarck on February 20, 1997, by The Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn. He retired from the Diocese of Bismarck after faithfully serving for 14 years.
Although there was limited time to pursue his hobby of magic, Bishop Zipfel usually managed to have something in his pockets to entertain children.
A noted storyteller and speaker, he was awarded the Great Preacher Award in 1999 by Aquinus Institute of Theology. In recognition and appreciation of Bishop Zipfel’s dedication to young people and their formation as Christian servant leaders, the University of Mary announced the Catholic Studies Program will be named in his honor.
He has served on the Fontbonne University Board of Trustees, the USCCB Committee on Communications, USCCB Administrative Committee. USCCB Priestly Life and Ministry, USCCB Nominating Committee, USCCB National Advisory Council, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Region VIII Committee on the American College of Louvain, and Region VIII Ad Hoc Committee on Nomination of Conference Offices. He served as chair for the USCCB Catholic Campaign Advisory Board, Production Subcommittee, USCCB Subcommittee for Liaison with Catholic News Service and USCCB Committee on Home Missions.
Bishop Zipfel is survived by his brother Ralph of St. Louis, niece Elizabeth Clamp and nephews John, Glenn, Greg and Mark, and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Sister Alice Regine Zipfel CPPS and sister-in-law Barbara Zipfel,
Whether school, office or parish, he was respected and loved for his unassuming, gentle, generous, humble and wise ways.
Services: Visitation at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, 4431 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 on Wednesday, July 17, 4 to 7 p.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated Thursday, July 18, 10 a.m. Interment St. Mary’s Cemetery (Bismarck, ND). Contributions to Bishop Paul A. Zipfel Endowment Fund, Diocese of Bismarck, P.O. Box 1137, Bismarck, ND 58502 greatly appreciated.
A service of Kutis Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois.