Not many Catholic schools still have clergy and religious on their teaching staff, but Fr. Zinger’s love for young people kept him coming back to the classroom. Photo courtesy of St. Michael's College School

Fr. Zinger left trail of inspiration

  • November 7, 2017
Everyone has a Zinger story. 

Fr. Cecil Harold Zinger taught generations of St. Michael’s College School students in Toronto the virtues of faith and discipline. Decades after young men have left his classroom, they still remember the legacy he left behind. 

Fr. Zinger died Oct. 27 at the age of 84 after a long battle with lymphoma. 

Fr. Jefferson Thompson, St. Michael’s College School president, celebrated a prayer service for Fr. Zinger at St. Michael’s College School and, in his homily, recalled his days in Fr. Zinger’s classroom. 

“Fr. Zinger, you are the epitome of the St. Michael’s Gentleman,” he said. “Never wavering from your selfless dedication to teaching and living goodness, discipline and knowledge.”

Fr. Zinger was a rare breed in today’s world. Not many Catholic schools still have clergy and religious on their teaching staff, but Fr. Zinger’s love for young people kept him coming back to the classroom. 

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Saskatchewan, he entered the Basilian Fathers. He came to St. Michael’s College School as a Basilian Scholastic from 1957 to 1960. 

He was ordained in 1963 and taught two years at St. Mary’s High School in Calgary before returning to St. Michael’s in 1966. He taught Religion for 51 years until his sickness forced him to fully retire about four months ago. 

Thompson called Fr. Zinger the “Basilian grandfather” of his generation of Basilian Fathers. He told stories of passing by the chapel every day after school to interrupt Fr. Zinger’s afternoon prayers. He also shared a common story of hours spent in the school gardens during Saturday morning detention.

“Surely it was discipline that you were shooting at us with your water pistol in the 1970s and ‘80s,” Thompson said in his homily. 

“And because we thirsted for more and more discipline, surely it was we who forced you, reluctant though you were, to upgrade to a super-soaker in the 2000s.”

Fr. Zinger is survived by his siblings Wilbert Zinger and Doris Klotz. He is predeceased by his parents Theodore Zinger and Frances Wiesner, and sisters Lorraine, Marjorie and Irene.

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