Father Don Baribeau, pastor of St. Mildred Catholic Church, died Tuesday.

Wojciech Chudziak, pastoral associate at the Swansboro church, said Baribeau died of natural causes.

“He passed away peacefully in his home,” Chudziak said Wednesday morning.

Chudziak said he last saw Baribeau on Sunday. The men exchanged texts on Monday and Chudziak was alerted to the priest’s death by one of Baribeau’s Sabiston Drive neighbors.

When he arrived at the Rectory the police and paramedics were already on scene.

Baribeau, 74, had been the parish priest at St. Mildred for 20 years, according to Chudziak.

John and Debra Olson of Swansboro, parishioners of St. Mildred, said Baribeau was a towering presence in Swansbooro.

“He is a great guy,” John said shortly after learning of the priest’s death. “He was so connected to the community.”

“He was a man of the community,” Debra added.

It was not unusual for Baribeau to minister across religious lines. Recently, he presided over the funeral of Swansboro’s Preston Rawls, a Baptist, according to Debra.

Denomination made no difference to Baribeau, according to Chudziak.

“He was a pastor to everybody,” Chudziak said. “He was a gentleman.”

Jones Funeral Home is handling the arrangements, according to Chudziak. Plans have yet to be settled.

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