Fr. Antony Primal Tomas may be thousands of miles away from his homeland in India, but he says he has found a suitable replacement in Racine.

He took over as pastor of St. Richard of Chichester Parish a little more than a month ago.

“I’ve known this parish for a long time,” Fr. Tomas said. “Since I’ve been in Racine, my community always sends seminarians here. The impression is like home. This is a family for me.”

Already the pastor at St. Patrick, St. Richard of Chichester and St. Edward were added to Fr. Tomas’ responsibilities with spring priest placements. He said it has been a smooth transition because the parishes have collaborated for about 10 years.

As the new pastor, he doesn’t plan on making any changes immediately, instead following a spiritual director’s advice to not doing anything like that for two years.

“Get to the know the people, the pulse of the church,” Fr. Tomas said. “I’m always thinking in that direction. The church has been here (for more than) a hundred years. I believe it’s about the people, not about me.”

There has been a parish at 1503 Grand Ave. in Racine since 1884. Originally Holy Name Parish, it was renamed to St. Richard in 1998, partly in honor of Bishop Richard Sklba, a son of one of the five parishes that merged at that time.

Located just a couple of blocks away from Lake Michigan, the parish’s approximately 500 families represent a large cross-section of the community.

“You get away from the lake and it changes real quick,” said Peter Habetler, the parish’s director of administrative services, noting there homes worth nearly half a million dollars on the lake and some to the west of the parish that are designed for people with more modest means.

The current building has been standing since 1916. Three years ago, the parish had a year worth of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the building and it was on the Racine tour of homes, the first time a church had been a stop during that event. Since then, each tour of homes includes a church, according to Habetler.

The interior of the church has remodeled several times, including in the 1950s, after Vatican II, in 1984 and finally in 2009.

“People will support the inside of a church,” Habetler said. “The parish has been blessed with some endowment funds that have helped us.”

The parish has seven staff members and Fr. Juan Manuel Camacho is scheduled to join the parish as an associate pastor in late July.

Fr. Tomas could see the parish adding a Spanish Mass in the future.

“I would love to reach out to (the neighbors), because this is a homey place,” Fr. Tomas said. “This is a vibrant church, but we could do more.”


St. Richard of Chichester Parish

1503 Grand Ave.

Racine, WI 53403



Mass Schedule

Saturday: 4 p.m.

Sunday: 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.