On June 23rd, through the laying on of hands and invocation of the Holy Spirit, Bishop George Leo Thomas ordained Deacons Kirby Robert Longo and Joseph Scott Paddock to the priesthood. Family, friends, priests, deacons and many guests filled the Cathedral of St. Helena to capacity.
“This is such a blessed day for all of us across the Diocese of Helena,” Bishop Thomas stated in his homily as he encouraged both men, “…take (Christ’s) yoke upon your shoulders and to learn from Him, but also make it your passion to invite others to encounter Him, to embrace and to love Him as the one who fills our lives with meaning, truth and love, joy and hope.” Bishop Thomas emphasized the need for priests to be men of prayer and in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. He also spoke of the need to share life deeply with the laity including a co-responsibility to propagate the Gospel, “All of us, without exception, are called to become missionary disciples by virtue of our Baptism.”
Father Kirby Longo, the youngest of three, grew up in Billings and began attending Billings Central Catholic Schools in 6th grade. He felt a call to serve God even as a child, stating, “I wanted to be a missionary as a kid. I wanted to serve more than anything, more than getting married or anything else. I had a lot of zeal.” Fr. Longo received Baptism and First Communion during his senior year of high school. “I fell in love with the Church through adoration (of the Blessed Sacrament). I was somehow just always certain that it was the body of Christ. After graduation, a waiting period before entering seminary came as a disappointment, “I had no idea that I’d have to wait. I was already filling out an application.”
Fr. Kirby attended Carroll College where he spent summers firefighting with the Forest Service in Bigfork and met Msgr. Don Shea, the pastor at St. John Paul II Parish. “I got to spend time with Msgr. Shea and he was instrumental in me continuing to discern.” Fr. Kirby included Fr. Dan Shea and Fr. Marc Lenneman as important friendships that encouraged him during his time at Carroll. “That’s when I began to seriously discern priesthood for the Diocese of Helena.”
Fr. Kirby attended St. John Theological Seminary in Denver, “Each year of study and formation I felt called to stay for another. It was good to just follow Christ in a trusting way.” He was ordained a deacon in June of 2016. “At deacon ordination, the promise of obedience was profound and at priestly ordination having all the priests lay hands on me gave me a powerful sense of brotherhood. It was really beautiful seeing all the stages of priestly life.”
Fr. Longo is now serving as Parochial Vicar for St. Anne and Holy Spirit Parishes in Butte. He has begun celebrating Mass, visiting the sick at St. James Hospital, and visiting the faithful at assisted living homes. He is getting familiar with the community there and said, “Butte is proud of their community. I’m enjoying ministry here and look forward to working with young people here.” In addition to presiding at several weddings this summer, Fr. Kirby will be filling in as Camp Chaplain at Legendary Lodge for a week in August.
Fr. Joseph Paddock was born and raised in Anaconda and established a successful career before answering the call to priesthood. After high school, Fr. Paddock earned a BA in Science and Chemical Engineering from Montana State University in 2000. His interest in the world of biotech led him to work for Cargill in Omaha, NE. In Omaha, he found community at St. Leo’s Parish, through the Knights of Columbus and a local group of Catholic young adults.
His faith life continued to grow when he attended the University of Notre Dame to earn his MBA with a specialization in corporate finance. There, he encountered a Catholic culture that had a big impact on him, “To me, Notre Dame was like Disneyland for Catholics. There was daily Mass, a chapel right in the business building, and a real openness to discussing and living your faith. It was tremendous. I realized I could be Catholic in all facets of life.”
In 2006, he moved to Southern California to work for Amgen, a biotech and healthcare company. To be closer to home and family, he started work for Amazon.com, first in Seattle, Wash. and then Reno, Nev. Fr. Joseph attended Immaculate Conception Parish in Sparks, Nev., where his call to the priesthood was encouraged by Fr. Norman King. During that time, many people began to make comments that he would make a good priest. Back home in Anaconda, Fr. Stu Long and family friends were making similar remarks to Fr. Joe’s mother, Jane. Initially, he was taken aback, “I felt like considering priesthood was only for super holy people.” In prayer, he would often say “This seems absurd but I’ll walk with you Lord.”
In fall of 2010 Fr. Joseph made a call to Bishop Thomas’s office, “He called me back the very next day. I was shocked that it was him in person on the phone and then we had a really great conversation for over an hour.” A meeting followed with Bishop Thomas and vocation directors. Fr. Paddock took time to consider an invitation to discern priesthood for the diocese, “I prayed on it for about two months. I had gotten really excited but I didn’t want to be selfish. After some time getting used to the idea, I had a great sense of peace and joy.”
Fr. Paddock entered Mt. Angel Seminary in Mt. Angel, Ore. in 2011 and found the transition challenging, “I had to let go of the hyper-planning and preparation approach. I was used to working to gain a competitive advantage; now I was learning to trust Him and His guidance of my days, weeks and years.” He went on to say, “The relationship with Jesus was my biggest blessing. I took my holy hour seriously and was able to focus on who He is and who I am in relationship to Him, that I’m a beloved son, called to be a spiritual father and that the Divine Physician of souls works through the priesthood.”
Fr. Paddock is serving as Parochial Vicar at St. Matthew Parish in Kalispell. Currently enjoying administering the sacraments and getting to know the community, he looks forward to supporting the many ministries of the parish and St. Matthew’s Parish School.