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Our Pastor



Fr. Howard Barch, has been appointed by Bishop Thomas Doran as our Pastor here at St. Mary’s Parish. Father Barch, has been ordained 23 years and comes to us from St. Mary’s Parish in Woodstock, IL, where he was helping Msgr. Aaron Brodeski while recovering from reconstructive surgery to his right ankle.

Father Barch was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, the oldest of 11 children of Howard and Majel Barch. After high school, Father Barch entered the United States Navy, serving our country for 7 years in the chemical and radiation protection areas. After his military service, he managed a radiation waste packaging operation for a 5-state region in the Midwest. He also taught at LaSalle nuclear power plant for 4 years before entering the seminary.

Ordained for the Diocese of Peoria, Father Barch served as Assistant Pastor in two parishes in the Peoria Diocese. He established the first police chaplain program in Moline, Illinois. He served as Pastor of parishes in Penfield and Rankin from 1996-1998 and of Hennepin, Granville, Bureau, and Mt. Palatine from 1998-2002 before being granted a leave of absence to care for his father. After the one year leave of absence, Father Barch transferred his incardination to the Diocese of Rockford. As a Rockford priest, Fr. Barch served as Assistant Pastor to two parishes in Galena 2003-2005 and then as pastor of Nativity BVM Parish, Menominee, IL, 2005-2009 and St. Joseph & St. Mary Parishes, Freeport, IL, 2009-2010. He established a police chaplain program for the Joe Daviess County Sheriff's Department during his time in Galena and a fire chaplain program for the City of Freeport and a police chaplain program for Stephenson County Sheriff’s Department during his time in Freeport.

Father Barch has many hobbies, including photography, amateur radio, camping, golf, fishing and motorcycle riding. Entering into a co-op with a good friend Gary Diedrick and his wife Linda, Father Barch has enjoyed building the home in Galena which he now co-owns with his friend in which he took care of his father before he recently passed away.

Father Barch is enthusiastic about joining the St. Mary’s parish family and looks forward to serving you.