Monsignor Richard Pricco took a job in 1977 that no one else wanted. Several priests turned down the job as Pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church and School in Macomb.
It was under instruction from then Bishop of the Peoria Diocese Edward O’Rourke for the personnel committee to approach Richard Pricco.
“I came out and looked at the place, and thought it was great. The bishop wants me to do it, so I’ll go. The next spring the bishop came out and said I did him a favor, and I could stay as long as I wanted,” Pricco said, reflecting on his time in Macomb on the eve of his retirement.
Pricco could have asked to leave for another assignment, but he didn’t.
“I like it here. The people are great. I would say they are holy,” said Pricco of the congregation in Macomb that was as big as 600 families five years ago, but has dropped to about 550 today.
Pricco said the accomplishments he is most proud of during his time in Macomb are the things that helped the less fortunate. He was active in the founding of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and was on the steering committee for the Lafayette Square Apartments which is housing for low-income seniors.
“The bishop always told me I was to minister to the entire community, not just the parish,” Pricco told the congregation during his final sermon at St. Paul.
Pricco helped St. Paul right its finances in the first few years he was in Macomb, oversaw a Church expansion in 1993 that moved the front door of the building due to the expansion of Jackson Street, and added full-day Kindergarten to St. Paul School.
Pricco says he has two regrets. He was not able to extend St. Paul School’s offerings to include seventh and eighth grade. “Junior High is such an important time in young people’s lives. I think it’s important to give them the opportunity to keep religion as part of their daily lives,” Pricco said.
He also hopes the parish continues with plans to build a parish hall and school expansion that will add more classrooms and bring the pre-school under the same roof instead of in a house next door. That $3-million expansion is pending approval from the Peoria Diocese.
Pricco will be succeeded by Father Adam Stimpson, a 36 year-old priest coming from Peoria where he is the Chaplain at Notre Dame High School and at St. Philomena Church.
79 year-old Pricco will return to his childhood home in LaSalle, Illinois. His plans include sleeping in, taking long walks with his miniature schnauzer Gabby, fishing, rooting for the Cubs and filling in as a priest in the LaSalle-Peru area.
He ended his last sermon at St. Paul by saying, “As I tell the kids each week at Children’s Mass, always remember God loves you. And when you think of me, say a prayer.”