Msgr. Thomas Bales dies at age 72
STERLING—Msgr. Thomas E. Bales died April 21, in the home of his sister where he resided.
Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, April 26 at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Church, Rockford. Visitation will be Wednesday, April 25 from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the church with prayer service at 7:30 p.m. and visitation Thursday, April 26 from 9-10:45 a.m. at the church prior to the Mass. Private interment will be at Oakwood Cemetery, Dixon, Illinois at a later date. Arrangements are being made by Fitzgerald Funeral Home, Rockford, Illinois.
Monsignor was born on Sept. 20, 1945, in Dixon, Illinois, to James E. and Elizabeth A. (Moerschbaecher) Bales. He attended Dixon High School, St. Ambrose University in Davenport and Illinois State University in Normal. He completed his theology studies at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill on June 1, 1974. On June 14, 1998 Msgr. Bales was named a Prelate of Honor with the title of monsignor from Pope John Paul II.
He began his service in the priesthood as parochial vicar for the summer at Holy Angels Parish in Aurora, then became campus minister at Aurora College for the 1974-75 school year. He served as chaplain at Rosary High School in Aurora from August 1975 to July 1979, then as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish, St. Charles from 1979 to 1982.
He was associate director of the Diocesan Family Life Office from July 1982 to January 1983, then served as its director until July 1983, then as priest consultant for Family Life until 1986. He also was parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish, Rockford, from July 1983 to July 1986.
He was pastor at St. Joseph Parish, Lena from July 1986 to August 1987, then served as pastor at St. Mary Parish in Sterling until July 2001. He also was dean of the Sterling Deanery from June 1998 to July 2001, and served as administrator for St. Mary Parish in Tampico from September 1999 until June 2000. He was a diocesan consultor from 2000-2015, and a member of the priests’ health committee from 2001-2013.
He returned to Holy Family Parish as its pastor in 2001 and served there until 2010 when he became pastor at St. Patrick Parish, Amboy, St. Flannen Parish in Harmon, and St. Mary Parish in Walton. Also during part of his time at those three parishes, he was pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Maytown from June 2010 to October 2011 and served as administrator at Holy Cross Parish in Batavia from April to July 2014. He retired from active ministry June 15, 2015 but continued to assist at parishes throughout the Rockford Diocese. He will also be remembered by many as an avid fan of the Chicago Bears.
Monsignor is predeceased by his parents and brother James. He is survived by two brothers, Patrick (Victoria) Bales of Hinsdale, and Michael (Karen) Bales of Grand Junction Colorado; two sisters, Rebecca (Malcolm) Schmitt of Sterling and Lisa Bales of Dixon; nieces and nephews, Elizabeth (Jeff) Mark of Fox Point Wisconsin, Katherine (Jarod) Brown of Monona Wisconsin, Kevin (Samantha) Schmitt of Dixon, Laura (Nathan) Wright of Oak Park, Andrews (Kathryn) Bales of Oak Park, Thomas Bales of Boston Massachusetts, and James Bales of Seattle Washington; and several great nieces and nephews.