Father Varno withdraws from public ministry

The Evangelist [Diocese of Albany NY]

July 30, 2021

In light of allegations of sexual abuse that were first reported in a Child Victims Act (CVA) case, Father John “Jack” Varno, a retired priest in the Diocese of Albany who serves as a sacramental minister in several parishes, has voluntarily withdrawn from public ministry while the case moves forward. The decision is effective immediately. While on leave, Father Varno will not publicly officiate at sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present himself as a priest.

Father Varno maintains his innocence but has made the decision for the good of the parishes he serves and the Diocese. Out of an abundance of caution and sensitivity to all concerned, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has accepted Father Varno’s decision, and asks for prayers for all involved.

Father Varno had been serving as a sacramental minister at Our Lady of Grace in Ballston Lake, Immaculate Conception in Glenville, and St. Joseph’s in Scotia. The CVA case does not involve those parishes, but rather an alleged event that occurred in the late 1980s at St. Jude the Apostle in Wynantskill.

Father Varno has served as associate pastor at St. John the Baptist parish in Walton and St. Peter’s in Troy (while teaching at Catholic Central High). From 1968-75, he was vice principal and principal of Catholic High. He was pastor of St. Jude the Apostle parish in Wynantskill from 1975-97, then sacramental minister to Schenectady hospitals until 2009. Since 2005, he has been sacramental minister for Our Lady of Grace parish, and more recently has taken on the role of sacramental minister at Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph’s as well.

Father John “Jack” Varno
Father John “Jack” Varno

The Diocese urges anyone who as a child was sexually abused by a Catholic priest or deacon to report the matter to a law enforcement agency or to the Diocese. More information is available on the diocesan web site at www.rcda.org/protectingchildren.