Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena

The Diocese of Helena (Latin: Dioecesis Helenensis) is the Catholic diocese for western Montana with its cathedral located in Helena, the state capital. The diocese was erected from the year-old Vicarate of Montana on March 7, 1884, while Montana was still a territory. The diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Portland (Oregon), which province encompasses Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

Diocese of Helena

Dioecesis Helenensis
Helena Cathedral crop.png
Cathedral of Saint Helena
CoA Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena.svg
Coat of arms
CountryUnited States
TerritoryLewis and Clark, Teton, Flathead, Lincoln, Missoula, Sanders, Powell, Granite, Ravalli, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Jefferson, Broadwater, Gallatin, Madison, Lake, and Beaverhead Counties plus parts of Meagher, Musselshell, and Toole Counties in Montana
Ecclesiastical provincePortland
Area51,922 sq mi (134,480 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2016)
44,413[1] (7.5%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMarch 7, 1884
CathedralCathedral of Saint Helena
Patron saintSt. Helena
Current leadership
BishopAustin Anthony Vetter
Diocese of Helena.PNG


The Cathedral of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Helena's first cathedral.

Before becoming a diocese, this was the Vicariate of Montana (covering the whole territory and then state of Montana).[2] For its first twenty years, the diocese served all of Montana. In 1904 the new Diocese of Great Falls (later renamed the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings) was formed to serve eastern Montana.[3]

The seat of the diocese is in the Cathedral of St. Helena in the state capital of Helena. It was completed in 1914.

Sexual abuse settlement and bankruptcyEdit

On January 31, 2014, the Diocese of Helena filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a $15 million settlement intended to go to 362 victims of sex abuse by clergy in the Diocese.[4][5][6] The settlement, which was approved in 2015,[7] covers Catholic churches in all or part of counties in western Montana.[5][6][8][7]


The bishops of the Diocese of Helena and their years of service:

Vicar Apostolic of MontanaEdit

  1. Jean-Baptiste Brondel (1883-1884)

(Augustin Ravoux, S.J. was appointed in 1868; did not take effect.)

Bishops of HelenaEdit

  1. Jean-Baptiste Brondel (1884-1903)
  2. John Patrick Carroll (1904-1925)
  3. George Joseph Finnigan (1927-1932)
  4. Ralph Leo Hayes (1933-1935), appointed Rector of the Pontifical North American College and Titular Bishop and later Bishop of Davenport
  5. Joseph Michael Gilmore (1935-1962)
  6. Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen (1962-1975), appointed Archbishop of Seattle
  7. Elden Francis Curtiss (1976-1993), appointed Archbishop of Omaha
  8. Alexander Joseph Brunett (1994-1997), appointed Archbishop of Seattle
  9. Robert C. Morlino (1999-2003), appointed Bishop of Madison
  10. George Leo Thomas (2004-2018), appointed Bishop of Las Vegas
  11. Austin Anthony Vetter (2019- present)

High schoolsEdit

Coat of arms of Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena
Arms was designed and adopted when the diocese was erected
The diocesan arms consists of a field of alternating silver (white) and green chevrons. On this field are the conjoined cross and a crown.
The field of alternating silver (white) and green chevrons to portray the mountain peaks in the diocese. On this field are the conjoined cross and crown of Saint Helen, Empress and mother of Constantine, the Great. This traditional representation of Saint Helen is used to signify that she is the titular patroness of the See’s Cathedral-Church.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Catholic Hierarchy
  2. ^   Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Helena" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 46°35′45″N 112°01′37.3″W / 46.59583°N 112.027028°W / 46.59583; -112.027028