CBA Chaplain Celebrates 50 Years of Priesthood
July 20, 2020
CBA chaplain Father John J. Zec is celebrating 50 years of priesthood this summer, having been ordained on May 30, 1970. Father Zec has served at CBA for nearly a decade in two different stints. He has been a chaplain, as well as a Theology and Latin teacher, since 2015 at the Academy. The Trenton Monitor of the Diocese of Trenton spoke with Father Zec as he looks back on his time as a priest.
Following his ordination, Father Zec served as parochial vicar in St. James Parish, Red Bank; St. Mary Parish, Deal (now part of Our Lady of Hope Parish, West Long Branch); St. Ambrose Parish, Old Bridge; Holy Innocents Parish, Neptune; Nativity Parish, Fair Haven; Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton, and St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel. He also served as spiritual moderator of the Holy Innocents Society in Monmouth County.
Further studies included The Juilliard School of Music at Lincoln Center, New York City; John XXIII Center at Fordham, where he received a master of arts degree in Eastern Christian Studies, and The Catholic University of America, Washington, where he received master of music and doctoral degrees in music and liturgical studies.
“When I was in Washington for studies, I was greatly rewarded spiritually as chaplain for a small order of nuns, who taught me how to make the most out of very little,” Father Zec recalled. “They sewed vestments, and they would make afghans of the leftover fabric and give them to the poor to warm them in winter.”
Highlights of Father Zec’s ministry included teaching, music ministry and directing the choir, especially in Red Bank Catholic High School, as well as directing bands and orchestras. He taught from 1977 to 1980 and then from 2015 to the present in Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, instructing students in theology, introduction to philosophy and Latin. He remains at CBA as chaplain as well as a teacher, offering morning Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In his retirement years, Father Zec especially appreciates teaching at CBA. “[I’m grateful to all [there] who have been so good to me … as well as the beloved students whom I treasure … and who have made these past five years so rewarding.”