November 23, 2009

Fr. Joseph Favara, Saginaw's Oldest Priest, dies at 97

SAGINAW -- Father Joseph F. Favara, 97, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, died Sunday, November 22, 2009 at Covenant HealthCare Cooper in Saginaw.

Father Favara was born on January 15, 1912 in Saginaw to the late Thomas Dominic and Grace (Trentecoste) Favara and baptized that same month at St. Mary Church, now the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, on Saginaw's eastside. He received his elementary and secondary education from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School, North Intermediate Elementary, and St. Andrew High School, all in Saginaw.

As a seminarian, Father Favara received his priestly formation at St. Joseph Seminary and Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, and Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Norwood, Ohio. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1941 by Bishop William F. Murphy, the first Bishop of Saginaw, at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw.

His first assignment was as an assistant pastor at St. Brigid of Kildare in Midland from June 1941 to June 1945. He also served as assistant pastor at Ss. Peter & Paul inSaginaw. In June 1948, he was assigned as administrator at Mount Saint Joseph in Saint Louis and its St. Patrick Mission at Irishtown in Seville Township, and later became pastor of the same two churches. He also served as pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Saginaw, St. Christopher in Bridgeport, Our Lady of the Visitation in Bay City, Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary in Midland, St. Mary at Nine Mile in Pinconning. From 1987 to 1997, he served among the parish community of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mount Pleasant, living in-residence there as a senior priest.

During his priesthood, Father Favara also served as chaplain to the Knights of Columbus in Midland, Alma and Saginaw. He was a member of the Priests Senate, Diocesan Finance Committee, Personnel Board, Clergy Benefit Society, Knights of Columbus Council No. 593 and the Sons of Italy. He was also chairman of the Catholic Services Appeal. He was granted senior priest status in 1981 and retired from active ministry in 1987. He enjoyed traveling especially foreign travel to Europe and the Holy Land.

Fr. Favara is survived by his nieces and nephews: Fran Wisniewski, Mary Ellen (Patrick) Doman, Joann Evert, Dominic (Catherine) Favara, Thomas (Lynn) Favara, Joseph D. Favara, Catherine Hickson and Peter Favara; many great-nieces and nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his brothers: Dominic, Charles, Peter, Anthony and Leo Favara; and sisters, Mary Favara and Elfemia Evert.

Father Favara's Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 28, 2009 at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, 615 Hoyt Ave., in Saginaw. Burial will follow in the Priests’ Section at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Saginaw. Bishop Joseph R. Cistone will concelebrate with Father Richard E. Jozwiak and Father Thomas J.  McNamara.

Visitation will take place at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, November 27, 2009 and from 9:00 a.m until the time of the Funeral on Saturday. The Knights of Columbus Council No. 593 will lead a Rosary prayer at 4:00 p.m.on Friday and a vigil service will take place at 7:00 p.m.

Those who wish to make an expression of sympathy may consider memorials to the Priests' Retirement Association of the Diocese of Saginaw or a charity of the donor’s choice. Arrangements were entrusted to the Deisler Funeral Home, 2233 Hemmeter Rd, in Saginaw. Please share your thoughts and memories with the family at the Cathedral or through

Class of 1941: The photo above was taken from inside Saginaw's Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption on June 7, 1941 and documents the ordination of Joseph F. Favara, Eugene A. Forbes and Noman F. Van Poppelen by Bishop William F. Murphy. Father Van Poppelen died in 1980, Monsignor Forbes died in 2003 and Father Favara died on Sunday.

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