Bismarck Bishop Emeritus Paul Zipfel dies at 83


The Reverend Paul A. Zipfel, Bishop Emeritus of the Bismarck Diocese, has died in Missouri. He was 83.

In a statement today, the Bismarck Diocese said, ” With great sadness, we notify you of the death of our Bishop Emeritus Paul Zipfel. He died peacefully Sunday, July 14, at a nursing home near St. Louis while under the care of hospice after an extended and debilitating struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Zipfel was ordained to the priesthood on March 18, 1961.

In 58 years of priestly and episcopal ministry, he earned a reputation for being easily approachable, comfortable in any crowd and having a seemingly ever-present smile and good nature.

Zipfel worked primarily in the St. Louis region and, on May 16, 1989, was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis.

Zipfel was named the sixth Bishop of Bismarck on December 31, 1996. The Diocese said, “he was the first bishop from outside the Province of the Archdiocese of St. Paul (North and South Dakota and Minnesota) to be appointed to serve Bismarck.”

He was formally installed as Bishop of Bismarck on February 20, 1997.

“During his 14 years as Bishop of Bismarck, one of the many indelible marks left upon the diocese was his devotion to vocations and Catholic education,” the Diocese noted. “His commitment to sending young priests to be chaplains and teach in our Catholic schools turned around our entire focus to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life for young men and women. He was truly a man of the people—a selfless servant. He once summed up his life by saying, ‘I try to be a priest from head to toe!'”

Zipfel served as Bishop of Bismarck until his retirement in 2011.

At the invitation of University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea, Zipfel took up residence in Saint Joseph’s Hall at the university, providing sacramental and spiritual service to students.

He later moved back to St. Louis to be closer to family, staying at the Mother of Good Counsel Home in Normandy, Missouri.

Funeral services in St. Louis and Bismarck are pending.

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