SAN ANGELO - Msgr. Benedict Zientek, a retired priest of the Diocese of San Angelo, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of his ordination with a Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in San Angelo on Sunday, May 27 at 6 p.m. Msgr. Zientek will be the celebrant; Bishop Michael Sis will serve as the homilist at the Mass.

SAN ANGELO - Msgr. Benedict Zientek, a retired priest of the Diocese of San Angelo, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of his ordination with a Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in San Angelo on Sunday, May 27 at 6 p.m. Msgr. Zientek will be the celebrant; Bishop Michael Sis will serve as the homilist at the Mass.

Msgr. Benedict J. Zientek was born on December 28, 1932, on a farm two miles east of Brenham, Texas, between Old Chappell Hill Road and Mustang Road.

He attended first grade through eighth grade (1939-1947) at St. Mary's School in Brenham. From September 1947 to May 1952, he attended high school at St. John's Minor Seminary in San Antonio. From 1951 to 1954, he attended St. Mary's Seminary in La Porte. From September 1954 to May 1958, he attended New St. Mary's Seminary on Memorial Drive in Houston.

Father Zientek was ordained a priest on May 24, 1958, at St. Mary's Cathedral in Austin by Bishop Louis J. Reicher (the first Bishop of Austin).

Father Zientek's first assignment was assistant pastor to St. Mary's in Brownwood. In 1961 the Diocese of San Angelo was formed; four of the northwest counties that were then part of the Diocese of Austin went to the new Diocese of San Angelo. Brownwood (Brown County) went to the new diocese.

In may 1962, "Father Z" as he was known, was named pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in Rotan, Texas (60 miles west of Abilene). He was in charge of two mission churches: St. Mary's in Aspermon, and Sacred Heart near Hamlin. The first Bishop of San Angelo was Bishop Thomas Drury, a priest from the Amarillo diocese.

In 1965 to 1967, Father Z was pastor of St. Mary's in Odessa, and from 1967 to 1977 rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown San Angelo.

In June of 1977, Father Z was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Rowena (30 miles from San Angelo), birthplace of Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde fame.

On April 25, 1979, upon the retirement of Bishop Stephan Leven, Father Zientek was elected Administrator of the Diocese of San Angelo until the appointment of Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, who became the new Bishop of San Angelo, on October 25, 1979.

From April 1979 until October 1979, Father Zientek drove from Rowena to the Bishop's office in San Angelo five days a week-30 miles each way.

In 1987, Father Zientek once again, became a pastor of St. Mary's in Brownwood, where he started out on his first assignment.

On January 23, 2003, Father Zientek was named a Monsignor by St. John Paul II, along with six other priests of the San Angelo Diocese.

in May 2003, Father Z retired at the age of 70. He returned to Brenham, his hometown, where he lived on his 20-acre ranch, which he inherited from his parents. There were seven children and each inherited 20 acres. He calls it a ranch because an Irish priest said "oh my Lord, you live on a ranch?" In Ireland, 20 acres might be a "ranch."

In January 2017, Father Z moved to Kruse Village, an assisted living facility, at the suggestion of his doctor, who told him that living alone was no longer feasible.

Father Zientek remains active in the local church.

"At age 85, I can say, 'Thank you Lord for another day each morning.'" When I first retired, I was able to substitute on weekends for priests in different parishes. I can no longer do that since I am not allowed to drive. On the second Sunday of each month, I have Mass at Sacred Heart in Latium. Someone always picks me up, I say Mass, and some one brings me back in time for lunch."