Zachary O’Friel, OFM
1921 – 2005
Fr. Zachary O’Friel, OFM, was born in Altoona, Pa., on Jan. 10, 1921, and attended St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., for two years.
In 1941, he was received into the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., professing first vows the following year. Fr. Zachary made his solemn profession of vows at Holy Name College, Washington, D.C., in 1945 and was ordained a priest at the church of Mount St. Sepulchre Friary, Washington, in 1947.
Fr. Zachary was granted a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., in 1949. He then spent a short time as an instructor at St. Joseph Seminary before continuing graduate studies in physics at the University of California at Berkeley. From 1951 to 1975, he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of St. Louis.
He was assistant professor of physics at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., from 1955 to 1974. After 19 years at the University, Fr. Zachary was granted a change of apostolate to the staff at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. Besides his sacramental duties, Fr. Zach was the ministry list maker, an important and very demanding job.
A brilliant nuclear physicist on the cutting edge of nuclear science, Fr. Zach was a true academic who loved the challenge of the world of ideas. He continued his scientific collaboration at the Air Force Research Laboratories in Bedford and MIT and at industrial-engineering labs in the area. He was a devotee of The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.
In 1982, Fr. Zachary transferred to parochial ministry at St. Bonaventure Parish in Paterson. He then became an associate at Our Lady’s Chapel, New Bedford, Mass., from 1983 to 1992. Upon the closing of the chapel, Fr. Zach returned to St. Anthony Shrine. He moved to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. in 1999.
Fr. Zachary died Nov. 16, 2005, at Holy Name Friary. He was 84 years old, a professed friar for 63 years and a priest for 58 years.