The Most Reverend Paul A. Zipfel, Bishop Emeritus


The Most Reverend Paul A. Zipfel, 83, passed away on July 14, 2019, at Mother of Good Counsel Home in St. Louis, Missouri. Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday, July 22, at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck with The Most Reverend David D. Kagan, Bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck, officiating. The priests of the Diocese of Bismarck will concelebrate. Burial will immediately follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Bismarck. Visitation will be held on Sunday, July 21, at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit from 2:00 8:00 p.m. with the Wake Service at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will continue on Monday, July 22, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. with the Office of the Dead prayed at 10:45 a.m. 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. He served in various assignments in parishes and schools throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis. On December 31, 1996, Bishop Zipfel was appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck by the future St. John Paul II. He was installed as the Bishop of Bismarck on February 20, 1997, by The Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He retired from the Diocese of Bismarck after faithfully serving for 14 years. After declining health, Bishop Zipfel moved to Mother of Good Counsel Home where he resided until his death. Although there was limited time to pursue one of his favorite hobbies of magic, Bishop Zipfel often used his entertaining tricks to engage people and draw them together. It was his way of breaking down walls and opening up conversations whether about faith matters or everyday life. It was part of what made him approachable and welcoming to anyone who encountered him. A noted storyteller and speaker, he was awarded the Great Preacher Award in 1999 by the 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 named the Catholic Studies Program in his honor. Bishop Zipfel is survived by his brother, Ralph, of St. Louis, niece Elizabeth Clamp and nephews John, Glenn, Greg and Mark and their families. Bishop Zipfel was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Sister Alice Regine Zipfel, C.P.P.S. 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. Memorials may be made to the Bishop Paul A. Zipfel Endowment Fund, Diocese of Bismarck, PO Box 1137, Bismarck, ND, 58502 or online at Go to to share memories of Bishop Zipfel and sign the online guestbook.