Deacon John E. Zierle, 76; played Santa at parish

By Rob Cullivan/Catholic Courier    |    02.11.2005
Category: Obituaries


Deacon John E. Zierle of St. Pius Tenth Parish in Chili died on Jan. 24, 2005. He was 76.

According to those who knew him, the deacon was an avid reader, cook, computer buff and square dancer. He and his wife, Kathleen, or Kay, also spent years playing Santa and Mrs. Claus at St. Pius Tenth Christmas celebrations.

A native of New York City, Deacon Zierle grew up on Long Island, and served in the U.S. Naval Reserves in Panama City from 1947-54. Together with his wife, he moved to Rochester in 1969 and worked for Eastman Kodak Co. until his retirement in 1984.

After studying for the permanent diaconate, he was ordained from St. Pius Tenth Parish on April 28, 1984. Deacon Zierle was appointed to serve as deacon for St. Pius beginning in June 1985, and he remained there until June 2002.

According to Sister Mary Anne Bookman, CSJ, the parish's pastoral associate, Deacon Zierle ministered to couples preparing for marriage as well as to couples preparing for the baptism of their babies.

"He baptized, witnessed marriage vows, conducted annulment investigations, preached the Gospel message and was part of our many liturgical celebrations," she said. She added that Deacon Zierle also coordinated the parish's hospital-visitation program.

"I worked with John for five years and found him to be very kind, especially to those who were hurting in any way," Sister Bookman said. "He always had a smile, even when he wasn't feeling his best."

His son, John, added that the deacon was a member of the Knights of Columbus and participated in the Cursillo Movement.

After he and his wife moved to The Shire at Culverton, an adult home in Rochester, the deacon ministered to residents there by conducting prayer and Communion services on occasion, as well as initiating a Bible-study group, Sister Bookman said.

"He's the type of person everybody looked forward to seeing every day," noted Scott Justice, medical secretary at The Shire.

Along with his wife, Deacon Zierle is survived by his five children, Joanne (John R.) Young, Barbara (David) Marek, John A. Zierle (Sharon Catalfamo), Dorothy Ann (Dan) Morgan and Edward Joseph Zierle (Wendy); 10 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a cousin, Sister Mary Eileen Zierle O.P.

A funeral Mass took place on Jan. 31 at St. Pius Tenth. Interment took place in the parish cemetery.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Alzheimer's Association, 435 E. Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14620.

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