Queens Pastor Was Major Figure in Polish Ministry

A Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Peter W. Zendzian, was celebrated Tuesday, Oct. 27 at St. Matthias Church, Ridgewood, where he had been pastor since 2013.

Msgr. Zendzian

He died suddenly Oct. 23 in the rectory. He was 63 years old.

Active in migration ministries for many years, he was a prominent figure in the Polish-American community.

Born in Maspeth, he attended St. Adalbert School, Elmhurst; Cathedral Prep, Elmhurst; Cathedral College, Douglaston; and the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, L.I.

He was ordained by Bishop Francis J. Mugavero in St. Joseph’s Church, Astoria, on Feb. 3, 1979.

He served as an assistant at St. Joseph’s, 1979; St. Francis of Assisi, Astoria, 1979-81; St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, 1981; and St. Margaret’s, Middle Village, 1981.

He worked at the Diocesan Migration Office, 1982-85, and at the U.S. Bishops’ Migration Office in Washington, D.C., 1986-93.

He returned to the diocese in 1993 and was named pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa-St. Casimir, Sunset Park, where he served until 2000.

He was appointed pastor of Holy Cross, Maspeth, in 2000 and served there until 2013.

Prior to being named pastor at St. Matthias, he was on a sabbatical in Europe to study German.

He was named a monsignor in 2007. In 2001, he received the title of Honorary Canon of the Cathedral Chapter of Lomza, Poland.

He also served as the coordinator of the Polish Apostolate for the Catholic Migration Office, 1994 to 2004. From 1996 to 2000, he was president of the Polish-American Priests’ Association.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was the main celebrant and homilist at the funeral Mass. Special concelebrants included Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski, Msgr. Joseph Grimaldi and Fathers Thomas Pettei, Robert Briffon and William G. Smith.

‘Man of Deep Faith’

Bishop DiMarzio pointed out that he and Msgr. Zendzian were friends for over 30 years and described him as “one with whom I could confide and one who was a man of deep faith.”

“Peter’s influence on the life of our diocese will be felt for a long time to come,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “In the Polish community, Msgr. Zendzian was the man to go to, he was the one who would figure out the complicated questions that sometimes faced immigrant communities.”

Bishop DiMarzio spoke about Msgr. Zendzian’s linguistic skills.

“When he first was ordained Peter was assigned to a parish where he became the ‘Italian Priest.’ Later he was the ‘Polish Priest,’ and then he would speak Spanish when necessary. Just two years ago he went to Germany to learn German better so that he could serve the German-speaking people of St. Matthias. And, lest I forget, he dabbled in Chinese when it was necessary.

‘Strove for Holiness’

“I can assure you that Peter was a deeply spiritual man,” added the bishop. “His spiritual director is here with us today. He frequented the sacrament of confession, made a monthly recollection day and yearly retreat. He strove for the holiness that God wanted for him in his life.

“Many times enduring challenges and difficult situations with great patience, Peter was truly the priest who offered sacrifice not only at the altar, but also in his daily life.

“He was a friend to all and beloved by all – staff and those for whom he worked. Peter certainly knew how to get to people’s hearts by speaking their language, by using his innate humor to bring them to understand his mission as truly as the apostle.”

Msgr. Zendzian is survived by his sister, Barbara Albanese of Farmingdale, L.I.

One thought on “Queens Pastor Was Major Figure in Polish Ministry

  1. We knew him as Father Peter as our pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish. My Mom was a lifelong member of the parish. Father Peter had a way of looking out for her and all the other senior citizens of the parish with the love of a son for his mother. He always recognized them as the pillars of the parish and made them feel very special. May God grant him the eternal reward he so rightly deserves.