Serving as the Headmaster of Benedictine Military School (BC), Father Frank Ziemkiewicz has a pedigree that you don’t expect. With a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a Master of Divinity Degree, the retired U.S. Army Colonel served as a chaplain in the US Army during a tour of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq before taking the helm of one of Savannah’s iconic schools.
Known for his quiet leadership and sterling reputation, Father Frank has been the face of Benedictine for the past 14 years. As headmaster, he oversees the day to day operations of the 119 year-old Catholic college preparatory school and is easily one of the most recognized men in black: seen on the sidelines of a football game, walking with Alumni in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade or attending community services from funerals, banquets and charity fundraisers to hospital visits.
How did you end up in Savannah?
While serving as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in St. Marys, PA, I was asked by our then Archabbot, Douglas (2007) to come to BC as Headmaster.
Archabbot Douglas, being aware that I was stationed at Ft. Stewart (1975 – 1978) and therefore familiar with the military and Savannah, saw the assignment as a good fit; I considered myself fortunate to be asked.
What drives you to lead young men and the clergy?
For me, it is critical that we (faculty and monks) offer to our students, an environment that will not only offer them the means to progress to the next level of their learning, but also instill within them an understanding that they are a part of a tradition that includes not only the wisdom of the Bible but also that of the Classical world and other traditions.
As our students progress into their adult years, our prayer and hope is that they carry that open mindedness and critical thinking into the lives of their family’s and professional careers.
What are your hobbies?
I especially enjoy reading history, American, classical, medieval, military and also about nutrition. The older I get, the more my focus is on nutrition. Anyone who knew me during my first 65 years would probably faint if they learned that nutrition was now an interest.
Who is someone you admire?
First of all, my parents. They were the children of immigrants and poster children of the “Greatest Generation.” They lived to realize the American dream, one could not ask for better role models. Additionally, I had the great experience of coming to Ft. Stewart in 1975 as Lt. Gen. Donald Rosenblum (then a Brigadier General) was creating the 24th Infantry Division, now the 3rd Infantry Division. LTG Rosenblum set a standard of professionalism that has inspired me since.
Do you have a personal mantra that you live by?
Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who said, “Never give up, never, never give up.”
Is there a personal or professional accomplishment that stands out?
Actually, there are several, I had the great good luck of serving as an engineer company commander with the 24th during LTG Rosenblum’s command of the division and serving as Headmaster at BC. In both cases, I had the good fortune of serving with exceptionally committed and motivated people. They taught me the blessings of and the need for teamwork.
Tell me about those famous BC400 Billboards. we heard you wanted a Christmas message out this year.
The BC400 billboards were the brainchild of Karen Robertson of RobMark.
She came up with the slogan in 2008 and it gave us a goal which greatly energized us. Our enrollment during the past several years has been just over 400.
Our current Christmas billboard, “Christmas Blessings” which features our senior class, has been our way of wishing the Blessings of the Christmas Season to the Savannah Community and of thanking the community for 120 years of support.
BC views itself as “A school with a soul on a mission” and it is that soul that calls us to thank and serve the Savannah Community.