Four diocesan priests retire after spending lives in service

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Father Robert A. Lange

Father Robert A. Lange was born in Richmond June 13, 1944, to Joseph and Thelma Lange.

He attended St. Paul School and graduated from Benedictine High School, both in Richmond. After receiving a bachelor's from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., in 1967, he spent 15 years working in real estate.

He attended Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained by Arlington Bishop John R. Keating May 10, 1986.

Father Lange served as parochial vicar of Queen of Apostles Parish in Alexandria, 1986-90; Church of the Nativity in Burke, 1990-91; St. William of York Parish in Stafford, 1991-94; and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Arlington, 1994-97. He was rector of St. Peter Mission in Washington, Va., from 1997-99, and pastor of Our Lady of Angels Parish in Woodbridge from 1999-2005.

Father Lange was appointed pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale in 2005 and served until his retirement Jan. 22, 2007, at which time he relocated to Shenandoah County. In 2011, he returned to full-time service as parochial vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes for one year.

Following retirement, Father Lange will live in a private residence in Shenandoah County.

Father Philip S. Majka

Father Philip S. Majka was born in New Britain, Conn., April 22, 1938, to Stanley and Helen Majka. He attended Israel Putnam and Washington Jr. High Schools, New Britain; St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield Conn.; Queen of Apostles Seminary, Madison, Wis.; and SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Mich.

He was ordained May 1, 1965, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Richmond by Bishop John J. Russell. He celebrated his first Mass at Holy Cross Church in New Britain.

He served as associate pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Alexandria, 1965-67; St. Mark Parish in Vienna, 1967-70; Good Shepherd Parish in Mount Vernon, 1970-72; St. Michael Parish in Annandale, 1972-75; and St. Mary Parish in Alexandria, 1975-76.

He was named founding pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Lake Ridge in October 1976. He also served as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Warrenton and St. Patrick Parish in Fredericksburg, before being assigned as parochial vicar of St. James Parish in Falls Church.

Father Majka received an award from the John Paul II Foundation in 1996 in Washington, D.C., and was honored with a national award by the Polish American Priest Association in April 1999. He received the Cavaliers Cross of Merit from the Polish Government for his service to the Polish American Community in 1999.

Father Majka served as chaplain to various Knights of Columbus Councils throughout Northern Virginia, to the Serra Club, to the Alhambra Club and to the Fairfax County Fire Department. He also is a member of various Polish-American organizations, served as chaplain to the Polish Community of the Metropolitan Washington area, and acted as host in both 1969 and 1976 for Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) during his visits to Washington.

Father Majka has served as the Catholic chaplain at Dulles International Airport since June 2006. He was elected vice president of the National Conference of Catholic Airport Chaplains in 2010. He will reside at the St. Rose of Lima Priests Retirement Villa in Annandale.

Father Mark A. Pilon

Father Mark A. Pilon was born in Detroit March 23, 1943, to Ernest and Elizabeth Pilon. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes School in River Rouge, Mich. After receiving his bachelor's in English from the University of Detroit in 1966, he taught at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria from 1966-70.

In 1970, he helped found the Institute for Study of Catholic Culture, a summer program for American students in Spain. He was publisher and assistant editor of Triumph magazine from 1970-73 and contributing editor until 1975, when he graduated from Holy Trinity Seminary at the University of Dallas.

After his ordination to the priesthood by Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh Nov. 29, 1975, Father Pilon was parochial vicar of St. Louis Parish in Alexandria. While in residence at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Arlington, he began teaching religion at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington in 1977 and, in 1978, he earned a master's in educational administration from Catholic University in Washington. He was a lecturer in philosophy of education at the university from 1978-79.

He was in residence at St. Agnes Parish in Arlington from 1980-83 and at St. John the Beloved Parish in McLean from 1983-85. During this time, Father Pilon authored two books: Understanding the Church from the Teaching of Lumen Gentium (Kairos Publications, 1984) and Magnum Mysterium: The Dignity of Marriage and the Family (Kairos, 1985).

Father Pilon lived in Rome from 1985-87 while studying at the Pontifical Lateran University Instituto Giovanni Paolo II. He was the second American to earn his license in sacred theology, summa cum laude, from the institute in 1987, followed by a doctorate in systematic theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome in 1991.

He was parochial vicar of St. John the Baptist Parish in Front Royal and then professor of theology at Christendom College in Front Royal from 1987-90. From 1990-2000, Father Pilon was pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Annandale. In June 2000, he became a full-time faculty member at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He was named parochial vicar of St. Raymond of Peñafort Parish in Springfield in 2009.

Father Pilon has three brothers and a sister, 40 nieces and nephews, and 87 grand-nieces and grand-nephews. One of his nephews, Jerome, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., in 1989, and Jerome's brother, Peter, was ordained in 2000 for the same diocese.

Father Leo J. Zonneveld

Missionhurst Father Leo J. Zonneveld was born in Holland Sept. 8, 1934, to Johannes and Querina Zonneveld, one of seven children. He entered Missionhurst Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1952, pronouncing his first vows a year later on Sept. 8, 1953. He was ordained to the priesthood July 25, 1958, in Nijmegen, Holland.

Father Zonneveld's mission assignment in the United States began in 1959, and he continued studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. During the assignment he did parish work at St. John the Beloved Parish in McLean. He taught at Msgr. Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, Pa., 1961-64; and was parochial vicar of Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale, 1965-67.

From 1967-69, Father Zonneveld was assistant director of novices at Missionhurst. During those years he continued his studies and obtained a master's and a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic U., where he lectured until 1969, the year he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Father Zonneveld was appointed provincial superior of Missionhurst's U.S. province in 1969, a position he held until 1979. He also has held a number of other leadership positions within the community.

Since 1979, he has served as pastor of Precious Blood Parish in Culpeper. He has served as dean of Deanery IV, as a diocesan consultor, as a member of the diocesan finance committee and as judge on the tribunal.

Father Zonneveld will reside at Missionhurst in Arlington.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970