Monsignor Richard Krekelberg, ordained a priest in St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in 1973, by Cardinal Timothy Manning, has served in the Los Angeles Archdiocese for more than 45 years, baptizing children, marrying young adults, counseling the weary, providing guidance to high school students, and ministering to the sick. Msgr. Krekelberg has also been instrumental in the restoration and renovation of St. Rita's Catholic Church and parish school. 

Msgr. Krekelberg said goodbye to St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Sierra Madre in June during a farewell party where he had been pastor at the tight-knit parish community for the past 14 years. During his tenure, he formed and renewed a parish pastoral plan, wrote and published a 380-page history of the parish for its first 100 years, and designed with parishioners a 5-phase master plan for the parish.

“We have completed the First Phase of restoring our 1922 original school building and the renovation and remodel of our 1969 church.” said Msgr. Krekelberg. 

Under Msgr. Krekelberg’s leadership, St. Rita’s now has an additional 25 ministries added to its parish life and ministry. 

Not only did he help build the parish physically, he also strengthened the community spiritually as a true shepherd to his flock. 

“I liked being in the parish long enough to become a significant part of the story of our parishioners and their families—now presiding at marriages of adults who were once my servers at the altar. By the grace of God, shepherding parishioners through times of tragedy and loss—moving from crosses to resurrection,” he said. 

During Msgr. Krekelberg has served in numerous capacities, including as a deacon at Mary Star of the Sea in San Pedro and St. Columbkille in Los Angeles. He worked as an Associate Pastor at St. Paul the Apostle, as Director of Students at Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary High School and served at St. John’s Seminary College both on the faculty and as a director of spiritual formation. 

He also served as Director of Continuing Formation for Priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese and became pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Long Beach before his tenure at St. Rita’s. 

St. Rita parishioner, Mary Monoghan, who attended Msgr. Krekelberg’s Masses regularly, had this to say about him:

“When I think of Father Richard, I think of a shepherd and his flock. You could not have asked more of a pastor than what Fr. Richard gave to the community of St. Rita’s. He thrived in his ministry, touching the hearts of the young and old, the sick and healthy, the joyful and the distraught. Father Richard met us where we were at, and with the compassion (and humor!) of Christ, tended his sheep. He loved his parish and his parish loved him back. One of the greatest testaments to his priesthood occurred during his last official Mass. During Communion, even though there were other Eucharistic Ministers available, we all waited to receive Communion from Father Richard one last time. One by one, he distributed Communion, saying the name of each person as he did so.” 

Parishioners like Mary will most likely want to visit Father Richard in the Coachella Valley, where he will become a “desert father” in his retirement. 

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