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Long Time Saginaw Area Priest Passes on Christmas Day

The Rev. Joseph Schabel a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, died on Christmas Day at the age of 89.

Schabel was born in Munger on Feb. 20, 1930, and graduated from St. Joseph High School  in 1950. He attended Sacred Heart Seminary in 1952 and St. John’s Seminary in 1956 before being ordained at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption on June 2, 1956.

His parish assignments throughout his career included St. Mary’s Cathedral, Harbor Beach Our Lady of Lake Huron, Bay City Visitation, Pinnebog St. Felix, Saginaw Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Maple Grove St. Michael, Saginaw St. Rita and Sacred Heart, Caseville St. Roch/St. Felix, Coleman St. Philip/St. Anne and Saginaw St. Casimir.

Schabel reached senior status as a priest in July 1989.

Schabel offered his assistance to his hometown when St. Norbert’s Church in Munger closed in 2014. He presided over special Christmas Eve and Easter Masses, despite having no church building. Schabel hosted what would become an annual tradition of unconventional Masses that started in a pole barn in Munger and more recently at the Merritt Township Hall.

He was originally scheduled to lead this year’s Mass, but faced sudden health difficulties days before the service, then passed away on Christmas Day. Another Senior Priest, George Serour, said the Mass this year.

Fr. Schabel was a member of the Saginaw Human Relations Commission and the Priest’s Senate, was a founder of the Saginaw Child Development Center, the Perfect Place crisis center for women, the Children’s Christmas store, the Mexican American Council, and the Benito Juarez Academy.



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