For the past five years, the Diocese of
Helena has been guided by the Pastoral
Plan titled “Come to the Light.”
Among the many priorities
and goals we selected
and highlighted, vocations
to the priesthood
and religious life,
along with the permanent
and lay ecclesial
across the diocese.
The people of
our diocese took to
heart the words of
the Second Vatican
Council Fathers, who
wrote, “The task of fostering
on the whole
Christian community, which
should do so in the first place by
living in a fully Christian way.”
Now five years later, it is good to look
back on the remarkable progress we have
made in our common vocations effort.
Vocations to the Priesthood
I am pleased to tell you that this fall, 17
men will be enrolled in various stages of
seminary formation. This is the largest
number since 1968, when 22 men were enrolled
in seminary formation.
All are college graduates and are characterized
by their deep love for Christ and
the Church, and by their desire to serve the
people of God. Our men are at Mount
Angel Seminary in Oregon; St. John Vianney
Theological Seminary in Colorado;
Theological College at The Catholic University
of America in Washington D.C.;
and North American College in Rome.
The rectors of these seminaries often
ask, “How are you recruiting such highquality
men for the Diocese of Helena?”
I am deeply grateful to Father Marc
Lenneman, who is our vocations director;
the Vocations Committee; and the priests
and people of this diocese for making this
effort so successful.
The promotion of priestly vocations is
a task ever-close to my heart, and I am
heartened and grateful to God for providing
our diocese with such wonderful seminarians.
It is my sincere hope and desire that the
example of these seminarians, coupled
with the prayerful support of priests
and parents, will inspire even more
young men to hear the call of
Christ the Good Shepherd deep
within their hearts.
The Permanent Diaconate
Five years ago, under the watchful eye
of Father John Robertson, our diocese initiated
a comprehensive formation program
for permanent deacons.
Seventeen men and their wives have
participated wholeheartedly in the labor-intensive
process of spiritual, intellectual,
pastoral and human formation.
Dr. David Thomas and a faculty of
priests, religious and laity have provided a
high-quality formation experience.
Our deacon candidates are now prepared,
and will present themselves for ordination
at the Cathedral of St. Helena on
June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
These permanent deacons will soon be
entrusted with a threefold ministry described
in Church documents as “the ministry
of the Word leading to the ministry of
the altar, which in turn implies the exercise
Once again, this ordination class is
characterized by quality, dedication and a
deep sense of service. The priests and people
of this diocese will be the beneficiaries
of their wholehearted response to the
Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lay Ecclesial Ministry
The building up of the Body of Christ
is the task of the whole people of God. The
lay mission is described in the documents
of the Second Vatican Council “as a right
and duty founded upon baptismal dignity.”
The Council Fathers wrote that “within the
ecclesial community, the laity offer invaluable
assistance to the pastors ... in various
fields: they carry out liturgical functions,
participate in diocesan structures, various
pastoral activities and parish catechetics.”
The lay faithful also have a distinctive
role serving “on the front lines” in culture
The Second Vatican Council Fathers
described the lay apostolate in service
across the vast horizon in society through
the promotion of a just social order, participation
in politics, the evangelization of
culture and society and the exercise of citizenship
to defend the freedom of religion.
The Diocese of Helena has taken seriously
the call of the laity to serve in various
ministries within the Church, as well as
preparation to become “salt and light” in
culture and society.
On March 24, 31 individuals received
their certificates of completion of the Program
of Formation for Lay Ministers. For
the past two years, they met monthly for
sessions on theology, Scripture, history of
the Church, liturgy, catechetics and Church
Beginning this fall, Dr. Chris Fuller and
the Carroll College theology faculty will
coordinate the PFLM. The sessions will
continue for two years and will be held at
Blessed Trinity Parish in Missoula. John
Fencik, director of Formation Services, is
working on PFLM-2 sessions to provide
additional training in discrete areas. These
sessions will begin after the 2012-2014
PFLM session concludes.
The Liturgical Commission has made
available formation and education opportunities
for lay ministers involved in the
liturgy, including musicians.
The Diocese of Helena has a long and
impressive record of shared responsibility
and collaborative efforts among priests,
deacons and lay ecclesial ministries in our
ardent desire to build up the Body of Christ
and evangelize culture and society through
the light of the Gospel.
As bishop of this local Church, I am
grateful to God and to the men, women and
youth who have taken so seriously their
baptismal call, and have followed the voice
of the Lord by full, active, conscious participation
in the life of the Church.
Published in The Montana Catholic Online, Volume 28, No. 6, June 15, 2012.