Parishioners share favorite memories of Bishop Joseph Cistone during Holy Hour service

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Midland, MICHIGAN (WJRT) - (10/16/2018) - Hours after learning Bishop Joseph Cistone lost his battle with lung cancer, parishioners met for a 'Holy Hour' service.

The service took on extra special meaning Tuesday night as the Saginaw diocese comes to grips with the death of it's 69-year old leader.

ABC 12 News spoke with church goers who shared some of their favorite memories of the late Bishop.

The Holy Hour service at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Church in Midland was actually put on the schedule by Bishop Cistone months ago.

The church felt it only fitting that a portion of the Tuesday night service be devoted to prayer for him and for all of those mourning his passing.

"In your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust our brother, Bishop Cistone.," the congregation prayed aloud.

There were prayers for the Bishop, and prayers for those he's left behind.

"Today it was a big shock," said Ann Marie Graham.

The Lay Minister, who had just heard Bishop Cistone preach at the re-commissioning mass at the Cathedral on Sunday--wasn't prepared for his sudden departure:

"He had such a nice smile and he knew everyone by name," she said, "he was really happy to see you when he smiled, it was in his eyes."

The Bishop played a role in Father Joe Griffin's assignment to the Midland Church--a place he says he very much wanted to be.

Griffin said the Bishop had a strong, hope filled faith:

"He trusted very deeply and spoke very openly of his trust in God, and that God had promised to be with us - and that God would be faithful to that promise in anything."

Including his battle with lung cancer:

"Some of the hope, as he seemed to be experiencing some recovery," Griffin said, "and then some of the disappointment as he experienced setbacks, through it all God was present, God was leading, somehow God's plan was being pursued in and through the midst of all of this."

Parishioner Donna Semanco says the Bishop ministered to her in her pain -she lost her own husband to lung cancer in 2015. She remembers hearing Cistone preach when he was undergoing treatment:

"I know it was very difficult," Semanco said,"but he insisted on being there and just gave it his all, truly an inspiration."

"and your soul will find rest..." the congregation sang.

Rest that those who have walked beside him during his battle with cancer say he will no longer have to fight.

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