SAGINAW – The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone has baptized. He has heard confessions. He has celebrated the Eucharist. He has anointed the sick. He has presided at marriages. He has confirmed. And he has ordained deacons. But he has never ordained a priest.
That will change on Friday when he ordains two men to the priesthood for the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.
The Rev. Mr. Christian F. Tabares (pictured above) and Rev. Mr. Rick M. Varner (pictured below) will be ordained to the priesthood during a Mass that will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, 615 Hoyt Ave., in Saginaw.
The ordinations will be Bishop Cistone’s first priestly ordinations for the Diocese of Saginaw since he was installed as its sixth bishop in July 2009. It also is his first priestly ordinations since he was consecrated as a bishop in 2004.
In the Catholic Church, there are three “degrees” of the sacrament of Holy Orders: episcopate (bishops), presbyterate (priests) and diaconate (deacons). Bishops, who are successors of the Apostles, are ordained to teach, sanctify and govern; bishops may confer all seven sacraments of the Church. Priests, who are ordained to be co-workers with the Bishop in his ministry, cannot ordain and may only confirm under specific circumstances or special permission from their bishop. Deacons, who are ordained to assist the bishop and the priests, may baptize and witness marriages.
Tabares, 33, is a native of Medellin, Colombia. He received his priestly formation from the Minor Seminary of Medellin and St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia. He came to the Diocese of Saginaw as a deacon in June 2008 and has served at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw. He has completed pastoral ministry courses offered through the St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa., and English courses at Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw. Following his priestly ordination, he will serve as the assistant pastor at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Bay City.
Varner, 43, is a native of Sanford, Mich., and grew up attending St. Agnes Parish there. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, a master’s degree in theology from SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, and studied at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn. He has served as a deacon for the past year at St. Agnes Parish in Freeland. Following his priestly ordination, he will be assigned to serve as the assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Mount Pleasant.
Tabares and Varner and will join the brotherhood of 92 diocesan priests (59 active and 33 retired) who minister to and pray for the people of the Diocese of Saginaw’s 105 parish communities located throughout 11 counties in mid-Michigan. Nine priests from other dioceses and five religious order priests also serve parishes in the Diocese of Saginaw.
On May 14, Bishop Cistone ordained four men to serve as transitional deacons as they complete the final stages of their priestly formation. Edwin C. Dwyer, Nathan E. Harburg, J. Marcel Portelli, and Robert P. Schikora were ordained as deacons at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption. Their priestly ordination is tentatively set to take place in the spring of 2011.