Msgr. Richard E. Zenk, who served the longest tenure of a diocesan priest in some capacity at the chancery offices, died Nov. 15, 2016, at a Sioux City hospital. He was 89.
Richard E. Zenk was born May 10, 1927, to Michael and Margaret (Engeldinger) Zenk, in Alton. He received his early education at St. Mary’s Academy in Alton, graduating in 1944. After working on the farm for three years while his brothers were in the service, he entered St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and was then sent to the North American College Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.
Msgr. Zenk was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 8, 1954 at the North American College Chapel in Rome by Bishop Martin O’Connor. He celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving, July 12, 1955, at St. Mary Church in Alton. Bishop Joseph M. Mueller assigned him to another three years in Rome to study canon law. He was awarded a J.C.D. degree from Pontifical Gregorian University in 1958. Pope Paul VI named him a chaplain of his holiness in 1972 with the title monsignor.
Msgr. Zenk’s ministry had been diverse, with service as parish pastor, chaplain, and work at the diocesan chancery office, including duties with the missions, the tribunal, and Calvary Cemetery. As part of his mission work, he traveled to many places including India, Africa, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Peru.
Diocesan assignments included: temporary assistant at St. Mary Parish, Willey, 1958; special assignment chancery office, 1958-1964; chaplain at St. Anthony’s Home, Sioux City, 1959-1960; chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital, Sioux City, 1960-1964; diocesan vice chancellor, 1964-1975; director of Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1964-2013, while overseeing Papal Volunteers for Latin America, 1964-68, executive secretary-treasurer Calvary Cemetery, Sioux City, 1964-2013; defender of the bond for the tribunal, Diocese of Sioux City, 1966-1975, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Rock Valley, 1968-72, while attending Sacred Heart Parish, Alvord, 1970-1972; chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Sioux City, 1972-1975; pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Sioux City, 1975-1986; officialis for the tribunal, Diocese of Sioux City, 1975-1988; national board for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1978-2012; pastor of St. John Parish, Onawa, while attending St. Bernard Parish, Blencoe; 1986-1995; defender of the Bond, 1988-2013 and pastor/administrator of St. Patrick Parish, Akron, 1995-2011. Msgr. Zenk retired from parish ministry in 2011 and from diocesan offices in 2013, when he took up residency at Holy Spirit Retirement Center’s assisted living unit.
Survivors include a brother, Don (Viola) Zenk of Alton, a sister-in-law, Catherine Twombley of Ankeny, Iowa and 30 nieces and nephews.