On April 26, 2020, over 300 vehicles paraded in honor of Msgr. Donald Zimmerman’s retirement and in celebration of his 73rd birthday. After 47 years as priest of the diocese, with 26 of those years in pastoral leadership of Christ the King Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas, Msgr. Zimmerman announced his plans to step down.
In a recent interview with Texas Catholic, Msgr. Zimmerman shared, “I have been edified by the faith of these folks. We are joined together by a common faith in the gospel, by a common conviction of where we are going in God’s plans and by common values as to what’s important in life and how we should order our lives accordingly.”
Among the cars in the honorary parade were FFHL’s Board Members Susan and Tom Stanzel and Julie and Nick Summerville, with their daughter Siena. Msgr. Zimmerman was introduced to FFHL in 1994 by Tom and Susan Stanzel. Since then, he has been a steadfast and generous advocate of FFHL’s mission to preserve the Christian presence in the Holy Land. He has supported every biennial Dallas Fundraising Dinner since the first event in 1998, serving as Master of Ceremonies at the first two dinners, and underwriting a table for the seminarians from Holy Trinity Seminary on multiple occasions.
Msgr. Zimmerman also generously supported FFHL’s University Scholarship Program luncheons which raise funds for four-year university scholarships for underprivileged Christian youth that have academic acumen. Four of these luncheons were held in the intervening years before the Vatican Embassy fundraising dinners were established. Msgr. Zimmerman also enrolled Christ the King parish in the Bethlehem Memorial Program with a brass plaque of recognition mounted at St. Catherine Church in Bethlehem.
In 2006, Msgr. Zimmerman received the Pope Leo XIII Gold Cross of Honor from Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, for his great work and support of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land. Standing with him in recognition were Archbishop Pietro Sambi, DD, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States; His Excellency, Bishop John J. Nevins, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of the Venice, FL Diocese; and Fr. Pizzaballa. Also present for this ceremony included the Honorable and Mrs. Will Hartnett and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stanzel.
On two occasions, Msgr. Zimmerman hosted guest speakers at the Christ the King rectory. In September 2006, he hosted the Most Rev. Pietro Sambi, D.D.; Keynote Speaker Apostolic Nuncio to the United States; the Most Rev. John J. Nevins, D.D.; Bishop of Venice, FL; and the Very Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land. In September 2018, he once again hosted the Most Rev. Bernardito C. Auza, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations. On both occasions, the guests stayed three days.
In 2014, Fr. Peter Vasko, OFM and Denise Scalzo presented Msgr. Zimmerman with the City of David Award for his ongoing support and dedication in helping the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land maintain and preserve the Christian presence in the Holy Land. A video shown during his award presentation showcased six recipients of the FFHL University Scholarship grants with remarks from eight Dallas locations, including Msgr. Zimmerman, who eloquently expressed why they support the mission of FFHL.
Msgr. Zimmerman is only the fourth pastor of Christ the King since its founding in 1941. As he begins his retirement, he will be missed by the priests and others who attend Christ the King.
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