Fr. Bill Zimmer Forum begins 11th year in new location

By | September 7, 2011

The forum will be offered the second Tuesday of each month, September through May. There is no session in January during holiday recess at the college. Registration is not necessary.

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A display in the Silver Lake College Library showcases a photo of Fr. Bill Zimmer surrounded by books featured in this season’s Fr. Zimmer Forum. The monthly speaker series, which moved to the college from the former Sacred Heart Parish, kicks off Sept. 13. Bishop Robert Morneau will be the opening presenter. (Photo courtesy of Silver Lake College | For The Compass)


“Probably the greatest advantage is that the move expands our audience to include faculty, students and sisters from the convent (Holy Family) across the way,” said Bishop Morneau. “Fr. Zimmer was deeply committed to education, so moving the forum to a college site would be right down his lane.”

Fr. Zimmer served as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish from 1976 until the time of his death in 1999. He was known as an ecumenical leader, a champion for social justice and a catalyst for Hmong and Hispanic ministries in the Manitowoc area. In 1995, the Interfaith Academy of Parish Clergy named Fr. Zimmer its National Pastor of the Year.

Following the success of forums in Green Bay and the Fox Cities, Bishop Morneau and Fr. Zimmer had discussed starting a speaker series in Manitowoc. Bishop Morneau later called on Mary Zimmer, Fr. Zimmer’s sister, to help make the vision a reality.

According to Mary, her brother loved reading, so asking presenters to focus on books that helped shape their minds and hearts on their personal faith journeys was fitting. Fr. Zimmer had also served as an adjunct professor at Silver Lake College.

“The book format allows people to be exposed to good literature,” said Bishop Morneau. “Either before or after each presentation, they have the opportunity of getting the text and reading it for themselves. It also gives the audience the chance to see how reading impacts the life of the presenter.”

The books featured this season are showcased in special displays in both the Manitowoc Public Library and the Silver Lake College Library.

Bishop Morneau will discuss the book, “Faith Maps,” by Michael Paul Gallagher, to open the 2011-2012 Zimmer Forum on Sept. 13. In addition to the new location, the forum has been changed from a breakfast to a lunch event.

Presentations begin at 12:15 p.m. in room 117 on the Silver Lake main campus. Participants may purchase lunch in the college cafeteria beginning at 11:30 a.m. or bring a bag lunch.

The forum will be offered the second Tuesday of each month, September through May. There is no session in January during holiday recess at the college. Registration is not necessary.

Mary said it’s hard to believe that this fall marks the start of the 11th Zimmer Forum. She credits Bishop Morneau for his generosity.

In addition to presenting annually, he helped schedule ecumenical speakers and celebrated Mass with participants in the early years of the forum. Mary also praised Fr. Dave Beaudry and Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Judanne Stratman, members of the Silver Lake Religious Studies and Philosophy faculty, for their support in the move to the college.

Bishop Morneau said that the opening gathering will be “like going home.” He taught at Silver Lake College from 1966 to 1978.

“I have great admiration for what Silver Lake College has done in the Lakeshore area and beyond,” he said. “It is a privilege to be asked to start the new season at this location. Since 2001, I have come to know and appreciate the core audience that comes every year and I am impressed by their interest and commitment to ongoing education.”

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