We invite readers to send short stories about the ways in which their lives have been personally blessed by the life and work of priests and religious in our diocese.
By Karina Fabian
For Father John Hunthausen, one of the great joys of being a priest is experiencing the varied personalities of the parishes in the diocese.
In his 52 years as a priest, Father Hunthausen has served all around the diocese. He was associate pastor at St. Patrick’s in Butte, priest-director at Anaconda Central High, taught math and theology in Carroll College (where he was also football and basketball coach), priest-director at Helena Catholic Central High School, pastor at St. James’ in Plains, St. Anthony’s in Missoula, St. Patrick’s in Butte, St. Charles in Whitefish and St. Rose’s in Dillon, after which he retired in 1997.
Now he lives in the retired priests’ apartments at Carroll College, though he does not have duties there. However, he still remains active, filling in at Plains for two years, seven months at St. Francis’ at Hamilton, and is now serving part-time in Harlowton and White Sulphur Springs.
He’s definitely enjoyed the many personalities of the parishes he has served. At Dillon, with its many missions, he had the chance to travel. St. Anthony’s was a huge growing parish in the 1970s, and he had the opportunity to help found Pope John XXIII, and Holy Family parishes, and change the Newman Center, which served the University of Montana, to Christ the King Parish.
St. Patrick’s, founded in 1900, was one of the oldest parishes in the diocese, and “typical Butte,” he said. He celebrated three daily Masses to keep up with the needs of the parishioners. St. James is in a rural, lumber town.
The many people he’s met and worked with have given him greater appreciation of the complexity of his own life. “All of it gave me a deeper insight into my own life as well as into others,” he said. “There’s a lot of other people in each of us.”
One thing that was neither complex nor varied, however, was the deep love and respect he felt as a priest. “I was really treated beautifully and I felt very welcome. People (in all parishes) were grateful that (we priests) are with them.” It is a joy second only to that of celebrating the Eucharist.
Published in The Montana Catholic, Vol. 21, No. 2, February 18, 2005.