Montana Catholic History Moments

The information for these audio history segments was researched, composed, and read by Christopher R. Nelson, teacher of history at St. Andrew School (a private classical school, in the Catholic tradition located in Helena, Montana). Christopher is the proud father of four, the husband of one truly giving and wonderful wife, and a humble servant of Christ.


Father Peter John DeSmet

The Flathead Indians of Montana had requested the presence of the Jesuits four times, with official representatives arriving in St. Louis three times between 1831 and 1839.

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Father Peter John DeSmet

One of Father DeSmet’s first experiences with the Blackfeet Indians found him whisked away, carried on a buffalo robe in triumph to the nearby camp.

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Carroll College

World War I and World War II both presented crisis at a national and international level, but the effect at the local level is sometimes forgotten.

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Bishop John P. Carroll

When the first Diocese of Montana was in it’s inaugural year, there were only 5 Diocesan priests, and thus it became necessary to keep the 15 resident Jesuits in the area until other…

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Bishop John P. Carroll

Building off Bishop Brondel’s initial vision for a Catholic college in Helena, Bishop John P. Carroll began to entertain ideas for a possible location of such an institution.

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Building a Catholic Community in Helena

The building of the Catholic community in Helena, Montana, from the 1860s to the early 1920s, was not only constructed by the daring and extremely competent priests and nuns of…

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Construction of Carroll College

With Capitol Hill securely in the hands of the Diocese of Helena, for the purpose of building a Catholic college, Bishop Carroll set out to raise money.

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Bishop John B. Brondel

On Bishop Brondel’s last trip to Vatican City in the year 1900, he was given an extraordinary gift from the Bishop of Anani.

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Bishop James O’Connor

The early years of Catholic missions in Montana rarely saw those of high ecclesiastical positions pass through. But Bishop James O’Connor was up for an adventure, and he got one.

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Catholic Indian Missions

For 30 years, from the time Father DeSmet stepped foot in the uninhabited terrain of the Northwest, to President Grant’s administration of the 1870s, the Jesuits had monopolized…

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St. John’s Hospital

St. John’s Hospital, founded and operated by The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, was just one of several Catholic missions that were erected on Catholic Hill in Helena, Montana…

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Father Paladino

Capital punishment in the form of hangings was commonplace in the territory of Montana. And although the Catholic Church opposes such punishment it did not stop the priests of the…

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Father Paladino

During the first week of 1875, a peculiar yet comical event took place which involved a noteworthy man of Helena and a priest.

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Father Lawrence

In 1891, Bishop Brondel and the Helena community were conned by an imposter posing as a priest named Father Lawrence.

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St. John Labre’s Mission

In the fall of 1884, Bishop Brondel went to visit the new mission on the Tongue River he had helped establish for the Cheyenne Indians.

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Father Giorda

Father Giorda and the establishment of a Catholic Church at a joyful midnight mass in Virginia City.

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St. Aloysius Institute

St. Aloysius Institute, an all boys school operated in Helena by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, experienced a tragedy October 11, 1900.

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Bishop John P. Carroll

Do you ever feel like you have too many irons in the fire? That reality didn’t seem to bother Bishop John P. Carroll as he directed the commencement of three major building…

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St. Peter’s Mission

In 1865, after several decades of residing in Montana, the Jesuits decided to move their central headquarters near Cascade, between Helena and Great Falls.

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Catholic Hill

The words “fire” and “Helena” seem to ring synonymous for the first couple decades of the city’s existence.

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Bishop Fulton Sheen

History or local fiction? It was recently made known to me that Bishop Fulton Sheen, a prime candidate for eventual canonization, was at one point, in his early priesthood, recruited by…

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Father Francis Cuppins

Only two years after his ordination in Europe, a young Jesuit priest by the name of Francis Coppins entered one of the most physically straining missionary environments in the world.

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The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth

The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, who attributed much to the Catholic character of Helena, Montana in it’s early years, were first convinced to come to this frontier town by…

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The Good Shepherd Sisters

In the same year that Montana Territory became a state, The Good Shepherd Sisters arrived in an uncertain environment, where the social roles of men, women and children were being…

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Father Anthony Ravalli

Did you know that Father Anthony Ravalli, who served side-by-side with Father DeSmet in the founding of Catholic missions throughout Montana, has been memorialized 3 different…

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Father Paladino

There are many priests that could be labeled as confident and undaunted in history, but one in particular in the late 1800s seemed to be unrivaled.

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The Good Shepherd Sisters

On October 12, 1935, the first major earthquake of that year struck Helena and the Good Shepherd Home had a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter Scale.

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St. Patrick Hospital

Have you ever visited an institution that has withstood the test of time, without a thought of the hard work that went into making that place a reality?

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St. Mary’s on the Mount

By 1949, St. Mary’s on the Mount of the Good Shepherd Home was a fully accredited all girls high school.

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St. Xavier’s Mission

On February 25, 1887, two Jesuit priests and a lay man arrived at the chosen site where a Catholic mission was to be established for the Crow Indians.

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Archbishop John Seghers

During the early years of the development of Montana, the western half of the territory was under the administration of Archbishop John Seghers.

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Bishop John B. Brondel

In the early morning of November 3, 1903, the first Bishop of Montana slipped in and out of conciousness as he fought a serious heart condition.

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Father Anthony Ravalli

The life of a missionary in the late 1800s was one of danger, hardship, joy and grace.

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Father Peter John DeSmet

Father Peter John DeSmet ventured into the unorganized territory of the Northwest in the early 1840s. While doing so, he became one of the most revered and sought-after men of his era.

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Our Lady of the Rosary

As much as we give credit to the early missionaries of Montana, there were truly miraculous events happening behind the scenes, providing the spiritual impetus for conversion.

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