Lothar Zenetti

Lothar Zenetti
Zenetti in 1978 at St. Wendel
Born(1926-02-06)6 February 1926
Frankfurt, Germany
Died24 February 2019(2019-02-24) (aged 93)
Frankfurt, Germany
EducationSankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology
  • Theologian
  • Priest
  • Writer
  • Hymnwriter

Lothar Zenetti (6 February 1926 – 24 February 2019) was a German Catholic theologian, priest, and author of books and poetry. In Frankfurt, he was both a minister for young people and a parish priest. He was also active on radio and television. His songs, for example the popular "Das Weizenkorn muss sterben" and "Segne dieses Kind", appear in both Protestant and Catholic hymnals.

Life and work

Zenetti was born in Frankfurt am Main.[1] He attended there from 1931 the Bonifatius-Schule and from 1936 the Goethe-Gymnasium. He was drawn in 1943, first as Luftwaffenhelfer, then to the Reichsarbeitsdienst. At the end of the War, he was a prisoner of war first of the Americans, then the French. During this time he began to study theology at the so-called Stacheldrahtseminar [de] (barbed-wire seminary) of Chartres.[2][3]

Back in Frankfurt, he completed his Abitur and studied at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology. He graduated in 1952 and was ordained as a priest on 28 September 1952 by Wilhelm Kempf in Limburg an der Lahn. He worked as a Kaplan (vicar) in Oberbrechen, Kölbingen, Königstein im Taunus and at St. Bonifatius in Wiesbaden. In 1962 he became Stadtjugendpfarrer (minister for young people) in Frankfurt. He was a parish priest in St. Wendel in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen from 1962 to 1995.[4]

Zenetti published several books and many poems. His song "Das Weizenkorn muss sterben" (The wheat kernel must die), part of Catholic and Protestant hymnals, is popular.[1][5] About 150 of his poems were set to music in the genre Neues Geistliches Lied (NGL), several were included in hymnals, others appeared in song collections and were recorded, for example the ballad " Was keiner wagt [de]" by the singer-songwriter (Liedermacher) Konstantin Wecker.[1][4] He translated hymns by the Dutch priest and lyricist Huub Oosterhuis to German, such as "Ik sta voor u" to "Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr" which is part of both Gotteslob and Evangelisches Gesangbuch.[1] He also wrote texts and songs in Mundart (dialect).[4] Zenetti worked for public television in a series Das Wort zum Sonntag [de],[6] and was the representative of the Catholic Church for the broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk.[3][4]

In 1984 he was awarded the prize Humor in der Kirche (humour in the church) by the Diocese of Limburg.[4] He died in Frankfurt on 24 February 2019.[1][7]

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