Msgr. Thomas Bales, 72, Dies on April 21 in Sterling
April 26, 2018
STERLING—Msgr. Thomas E. Bales died April 21, 2018, in the home of his sister, here, where he lived. Msgr. Bales was born on Sept. 20, 1945, in Dixon, to James E. and Elizabeth A. (Moerschbaecher) Bales.  
He attended Dixon High School, St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, 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 in 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. 
He then served 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 while serving those three parishes, he was  pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Maytown from June 2010 to October 2011 and 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 willl be remembered by many as an avid fan of the Chicago Bears.
Msgr. Bales 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, Colo.; two sisters, Rebecca (Malcolm) Schmitt of Sterling and Lisa Bales of Dixon; nieces and nephews, Elizabeth (Jeff) Mark of Fox Point, Wis., Katherine (Jarod) Brown of Monona, Wis., Kevin (Samantha) Schmitt of Dixon, Laura (Nathan) Wright of Oak Park, Andrew (Kathryn) Bales of Oak Park, Thomas Bales of Boston, Mass., and James Bales of Seattle, Wash.; and several great nieces and nephews.
Visitation was 2-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25 at Holy Family Parish, 4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, with a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. Visitation  was also 9-10:45 a.m. at the church before the funeral Mass, which was on Thursday, April 26, 2018, at 11 a.m.  
Private burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery, Dixon, at a later date.