Priestly ministry took four near and far in the 50 years since their ordinations

Seven priests in the Diocese of Peoria are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their ordination in 2016.

Father Richard L. Barclift, Father John C. Horton, Msgr. Ernest E. Pizzamiglio and Msgr. Paul E. Showalter, P.A., were ordained by Bishop John B. Franz on May 22, 1966, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Meanwhile, on Dec. 17 of that year, Archbishop John J. Myers was ordained to the priesthood at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

One member of the class, Father William C. Betson, has died.

In addition, the Diocese of Peoria has benefited from the ministry of Father Ted Pracz, who was ordained for the LaSalette Fathers on April 23, 1966. He was featured in the April 10 issue of The Catholic Post.

Salesian Father Joseph Santa-Bibiana, who has ministered at Holy Cross Church in Champaign since 2013, was ordained on March 6, 1966. He was featured in the Feb. 28 issue of The Post.

The Catholic Post will feature Archbishop Myers in a story closer to his ordination date.

Brief profiles of Father Barclift, Father Horton, Msgr. Pizzamiglio and Msgr. Showalter follow, along with details about their celebrations and addresses.



Whether he’s ministering to recovering addicts and alcoholics, attending to the spiritual needs of the people working on cruise ships, or celebrating Mass at churches in the Quad Cities, Father Barclift enjoys connecting with people.

“It raises the bar on ministry,” he said.

Not only are the encounters sacramental for him, but he considers those he meets to be sources of “grace and delight.”

Father Richard Barclift

Father Richard Barclift

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Father Barclift spent much of his childhood in Council Bluffs. His father, Roy, traveled throughout the state of Iowa for work and wanted his son to attend Creighton Prep, across the Missouri River in Omaha, Nebraska.

Father Barclift had been thinking about the priesthood, so he decided to see if it was a good fit for him by applying to the Diocese of Des Moines. He attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, for one year.

When his parents returned to Hancock County in Illinois, their pastor took him around and introduced him to the priests in Diocese of Peoria. “You need to be here,” he told the young seminarian.

Father Barclift decided to follow the older man’s advice.

Accepted by the Diocese of Peoria, he studied philosophy at St. Ambrose College In Davenport, Iowa, and theology at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Indiana.

Father Barclift’s first assignments were as parochial vicar at St. Joseph in Rock Island, Epiphany in Normal, and St. Patrick in Lincoln. In 1972 he started working with the Diocesan Vocation Team and in 1974 was named a diocesan consultor.

In 1976, he joined the Rock Island-Milan Cooperative Ministry as co-pastor of St. Ambrose in Milan and St. Patrick in Andalusia. He was named pastor of those parishes two years later.

“It was a great experience,” Father Barclift recalled, saying it allowed the parishes to collaborate across parish boundaries and gave people an experience of the larger Catholic community.

Another highlight of his ministry was serving as the diocesan director of Christ Renews His Parish, which provided opportunities for people to grow in and live the sacraments beyond Sunday Mass.

He served as pastor of St. Patrick in LaSalle and Christ the King in Moline before returning to St. Patrick in Andalusia in 1998. Father Barclift began his ministry as a maritime chaplain with the Apostleship of the Sea in 2009, the same year he was granted senior priest status.

Not only does he assist in Quad Cities parishes, but he also celebrates Mass for the Benedictine Sisters at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island. He said he enjoys the camaraderie of the priests and women religious in the area.

Everything he does flows from “my hunger to make a difference in people’s lives and their hunger to find a little added dimension to their faith and some answers to their life’s issues, life’s problems,” he said.

Father Barclift will celebrate Masses of Thanksgiving on Saturday, May 21, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Mary Church in Hamilton, and on Sunday, May 22, at 8 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church in Warsaw.

Mail for Father Barclift may be sent to 110 19th St., Suite 205, Rock Island, IL 61201.



Father Horton knew from an early age that he wanted to be a priest.

“We played Mass,” he said. “My mom had cookie cutters so we took white bread, flattened it, and cut out rounds. Boy, did that bread get hard after awhile.”

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, he liked going to Mass and served almost every day for the Augustinians who staffed Mendel High School in the Pullman neighborhood. His pastor also took an interest in him and because he socialized with the priests from the Diocese of Peoria, that’s where he took Father Horton to apply for the priesthood.

50 Horton 2

Father John Horton

Msgr. George Carton, director of vocations, sent him to St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, to study philosophy, and St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, to study theology.

His first assignment to Immaculate Conception in Streator put him close enough to home that he could drive up to Chicago and back on his days off. He would also serve as parochial vicar at St. Mary in Lincoln and St. Patrick in Ottawa.

He was named pastor at St. Patrick in Havana and Immaculate Conception in Manito in 1977 and remained there for 18 years.

His last assignment took him to a new parish, Our Lady of the Lake in Mahomet, where he oversaw construction of the church. Happy with the way the parish complex came together, he said his one regret is that they couldn’t afford to buy stained glass windows.

Father Horton was granted senior priest status in 2010 and moved to Bloomington. While he was never assigned there, he has friends in the area and remains busy by assisting with confessions and Masses at the area parishes and schools.

“The main thing that has brought me joy has always been celebrating Mass,” he told The Catholic Post. “That’s how it started and that’s the main thing.”

Father Horton said he has also enjoyed the times he’s been able to teach, including offering presentations on Scripture to the permanent deacon candidates in the early days.

“It would usually be on Sunday afternoons,” he recalled. “I was so taken with the deacons and their wives, sometimes I would go just to be there.”

He said he was impressed with how they gave up their time for five years of formation and then gave their lives to the church.

“I just have the highest admiration for them. It just amazes me,” he said.

Father Horton’s hobbies include reading and photography and the railroad man’s son has a shed filled with model trains.

Mail for Father Horton may be sent to 1837 E. Lafayette St., Bloomington, IL 61701-7014.



When he was in the Air Force, Msgr. Pizzamiglio used to dream of finding a good woman to settle down with and having children. God gave him everything he dreamed of — and more.

“I got the greatest woman in all of God’s creation — our Blessed Mother,” he recently told The Catholic Post. “And my kids are all Catholics.”

Someone once asked him if he was lonely, living in the rectory at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, where he has served as pastor for 25 years, but they needn’t have worried.

Msgr. Ernie Pizzamiglio

Msgr. Ernie Pizzamiglio

“I live with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I have all the company I need,” Msgr. Pizzamiglio said. “I’m serious about that. I talk to them all the time. It’s called prayer.”

While his prayer life has always been strong, Msgr. Pizzamiglio didn’t get to know Mary, whom he calls “my girl,” until he was in high school.

Born on the South Side of Chicago, he was baptized in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. When the Pizzamiglio family moved to Spring Valley, there was no comparable place of worship and he eventually stopped going to church. That changed when his Catholic brother-in-law invited him to Mass at Immaculate Conception Church.

He didn’t understand the Latin or really know what the priest was doing, but felt a powerful attraction.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the Blessed Sacrament. It was our Lord,” Msgr. Pizzamiglio said. “He was drawing me into that. It was so strong I wanted to go back again.”

He continued to go to Mass after he joined the Air Force and started taking instructions in the Catholic faith. He was baptized conditionally and confirmed while serving as an aircraft mechanic during the Korean War.

It was his baptism that got him thinking God might have other plans for him and during heartfelt conversations with God before the Blessed Sacrament he offered his life to the Lord.

After he was discharged from the military, he returned to central Illinois and was accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Peoria. He was sent to St. Bede College to learn Latin and study liberal arts, and then attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, to study philosophy, and St. Procopius Seminary in Lisle to study theology.

Msgr. Pizzamiglio found the coursework challenging, but kept going with support from Msgr. George Carton, then vocations director for the Diocese of Peoria, and Bishop John B. Franz. He also credits the Holy Family, to whom he turned in prayer often.

“God works with us. If only people realized that, if we only put our trust in him,” he said. “You’ve got to persevere!”

Msgr. Pizzamiglio served as parochial vicar at Holy Family in Peoria, Holy Cross in Champaign, and Visitation in Kewanee before being named administrator at St. John in Galva. His pastorates took him to St. Patrick in Elkhart, St. Thomas in Mount Pulaski, and St. John in Middletown, in 1976; St. Mary in DePue in 1981; St. Edward in Chillicothe in 1985; and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Galesburg in 1990. While at the Galesburg parish, he has also shepherded the faith community at St. Aloysius in Wataga twice.

He was vicar of the Kewanee Vicariate and has been vicar of the Monmouth Vicariate since 1990.

He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of monsignor in 2009.

“I love the priesthood,” Msgr. Pizzamiglio said. “It’s the greatest vocation. To be called to be an instrument of our Lord, to bring him body, blood, soul and divinity to people in holy Communion — what could be greater than that?”

He will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, at Immaculate Heart of Mary. A buffet will follow for those who have made reservations.

Mail for Msgr. Pizzamiglio may be sent to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 2401 N. Broad St., Galesburg, IL 61401-1203.



Name a board or spiritual enrichment program in the Diocese of Peoria, and Msgr. Showalter has probably been part of it at one time or another. He speaks fondly of each opportunity to serve, singling out Growing in Faith Together, the pastoral planning process that sought to strengthen the Diocese of Peoria through greater collaboration of its parishes, as a highlight of his long ministry.

“I can’t think of any other life that can give you so much happiness,” he said.

Born in Rock Island on Oct. 7, 1940, Msgr. Showalter said his uncle, Father Norbert Showalter of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, had a great influence on his decision to enter the priesthood.

Msgr. Paul Showalter, P.A.

Msgr. Paul Showalter, P.A.

“I remember he made an effort to drive down from Iowa for my First Communion,” Msgr. Showalter said. “I can remember back to the time of my First Communion wanting to be a priest.”

Growing up in a strong Catholic family supported his budding vocation, as did a great love for the Blessed Mother. He also credits the example and interest of Father Bob Reynolds, his pastor at Sacred Heart in Rock Island.

Father Reynolds would be his vesting priest when he was ordained and was the homilist for his first Mass and the Mass of Thanksgiving for his 25th anniversary.

Msgr. Showalter was educated at Alleman High School in Rock Island and St. Bede Academy in Peru and attended St. Bede College for two years. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Indiana.

His first assignments were as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception in Monmouth and chaplain at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, with residence at Holy Trinity in Bloomington and then St. Patrick in Wapella. He would go on to serve as pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Nauvoo and Sacred Heart in Dallas City for 12 years.

For the next 13 years, Msgr. Showalter ministered in the Quad Cities, first as pastor of St. Mary in Rock Island and then St. Pius X in Rock Island.

He was named vicar general for the Diocese of Peoria in 2004, and has continued to serve in that role with additional duties as administrator at St. Vincent de Paul; pastor at St. Bernard; and rector at St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of St. Peter, all in Peoria.

Msgr. Showalter was named a Prelate of Honor, with the title of monsignor, in 2000, and Protonotary Apostolic, the highest rank of monsignor, in 2009.

He also has served as vicar of the Rock Island Vicariate and was designated a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in 1997.

When Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, asked him to be the vicar general for the diocese, Msgr. Showalter said he wasn’t sure he had enough background in canon law to accept.

“But you know the priests. You know the diocese,” Bishop Jenky told him and the opportunity to work with the bishop and the fraternity of the priests have proven to be great gifts, Msgr. Showalter told The Post.

He will observe his golden anniversary by celebrating the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday, June 12. The homilist will be Msgr. Stanley Deptula, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship. A luncheon will follow.

He also plans to celebrate Masses of Thanksgiving in Nauvoo and Rock Island this summer.

Currently in residence at the rectory of St. Bernard Church, mail may be sent to him there: 509 E. Kansas St., Peoria, IL 61603.

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