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Monsignor Donald Zimmerman is being recognized for his decades of support to Bishop Dunne Catholic School and other schools in the Diocese of Dallas.

Monsignor Donald Zimmerman to receive Bishop Dunne Voyager Award October 22, 2015 at the Hilton Anatole

Dallas native Monsignor Donald F. Zimmerman will be the 15th recipient of Bishop Dunne Catholic School’s Voyager Award for his consistent support of Catholic education throughout the Diocese of Dallas.

Monsignor Zimmerman has quietly supported schools in the southern segment of the city for decades, always responding with help, support, and encouragement. Kate Dailey, Bishop Dunne’s President, notes that Monsignor Zimmerman was one of the school’s most successful Bishop Dunne 100 keynote speakers.

And for the first time in the history of the Bishop Dunne 100 Dinner, a Falcon parent will be the keynote speaker. The father of three, 19 year old Paul, and Caroline and Jake, a senior and a sophomore at Bishop Dunne, Dr. Frederick P. Cerise, M.D., M.P.H., may be better known in Dallas as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Parkland Health & Hospital System since his arrival in March 2014.

Tom and Shelly Codd are the honorary chairs for the dinner. Tom is Vice Chairman, US Human Capital Leader and client service partner for PwC. As the parents of four children, both are passionate about Catholic education with Shelly providing outstanding leadership over the years on behalf of her children’s schools – St. Rita School, Jesuit and Ursuline Academy.

“The Ticket” Sports Radio’s popular morning DJ, Craig Miller, a 1983 graduate of Bishop Dunne, will again be the Master of Ceremonies.

The dinner, held at the Hilton Anatole, highlights the school’s achievements, and student ambassadors are available to meet and greet guests. All funds raised go toward tuition assistance to help the next 100 students attend the school.

Champion of the underdog

In addition to helping Catholic schools in south Dallas, Monsignor Zimmerman is also a champion in the animal rescue movement. 

Starved nearly to death, Caster was left for dead when rescued by the Cavalier King Charles Rescue organization. The group specializes in the cute Cavalier King Charles dogs, one size down from a Cocker Spaniel, and is very cautious about placing the dainty dogs in a safe home environment.

“I had to go through an extensive interview, part of a long adoption process,” said his proud owner, even though his reputation as a good man in the community preceded him.

Fortunately, Monsignor Zimmerman was up to the challenge, clearing the intensive interview process, and Caster came to live in the rectory at Christ the King Catholic Church, Monsignor’s third rescue dog in two decades.

Soon after, another Cavalier King Charles Rescue dog was up for adoption, one whose life has dramatically changed since she was dumped on the side of the road, left for dead. Vocal cords cut so she couldn’t bark, Portia was used for breeding and then, when too old to produce more offspring, dumped. Monsignor Zimmerman took her in immediately. “She just loves the staff here,” he says, beaming. His secretary, Liz, “is Portia’s aunt.”

Now the two dogs live in a loving home, with a delighted owner, and hundreds of admirers. “The 8th grade classes go to chat with Monsignor about confirmation and graduation on a regular basis,” said Principal Patrick O’Sullivan, former Principal at Bishop Dunne. “And seeing him with his two little dogs, it makes him more approachable. The kids just love it, that pet-friendly side of him.” O’Sullivan, also a dog lover, previously rescued two dogs himself. His dogs were much larger, however, Dobermans.

Even his daughter, Danielle, is involved in dog rescue. Patrick explains that her Girl Scout troop collected dog food for the Doberman Rescue group in Dallas, delivering it to them last December.

He feels having Monsignor’s dogs on campus “puts people at ease. Animals are good for the soul.”

Monsignor Zimmerman couldn’t agree more. His dogs have, he admits, “pretty much the run of the rectory,” adding, “and it’s a joy to see their personalities emerge.” Both dogs were shy when they first came home to Christ the King, but have learned that they are safe, among friends, and love going for walks with their adopted father every day.

Monsignor’s first rescue dog came to him 11 years ago, when he was the pastor at St. Monica’s. “Gus,” was “in personnel management,” Monsignor clarified, “He could meet individuals and know right away if they were a good person or not.”

A fan of Ancient Rome, Monsignor named his first dog after Augustus Caesar. Soon after Gus came Claudius Maximus – Max – who “was a building engineer.” While in the back woods of Arkansas hiking in the Ozark Mountains, Monsignor came to a 100-year-old bridge. He explained, “I wanted to cross it, but Max wouldn’t budge.” A few months later, Monsignor learned the bridge had come crashing down.

Max was also famous for creating a bed out of a rug. “He’d get onto it and roll himself up in it, completely hidden, leaving just an air hole, but you couldn’t see him in there, sleeping.”

Monsignor didn’t have a dog growing up, so enjoys having them now. “My mother loved cats. But you can’t adopt a cat – it adopts you,” he said with a knowing smile.

Monsignor thinks “a home is not a home without a dog.”

The Cavaliers of the Midwest Rescue Club in Houston have Monsignor Z on their speed dial. “We have a real obligation, as human beings, to take care of our pets,” he says, “we’ve bred them to be dependent upon us, so we must take care of them. In return, we get their unconditional love, affection and devotion.”

Portia and Caster, two dogs abused and abandoned in their past, will be safe and loved for the rest of their lives, thanks to a boy who grew up without a dog – a boy who grew up to be a champion of the underdog: Monsignor Zimmerman will see to it.

For more information on the BD 100 Dinner, to purchase tickets, or to make a donation to Bishop Dunne school, contact Mary Gracheck at mgrachek@bdcs.org or 469-291-1785.

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