Alex J. Brunett, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, was named the eighth Bishop of Helena in 1994 and served for three and a half years. Shortly after his arrival in Helena, Bishop Brunett began a series of ambitious tours of the diocese, attending welcoming ceremonies and visiting parishes. His preaching centered on themes that permeated his ministry in the diocese including that Catholics should be joyful about their faith, maintain hope for the future, and seek unity by healing division and attitudes which separate one from another. These themes became the centerpiece of “Crossing the Threshold to the Third Millennium,” a celebration at Carroll College that was one of the most significant events held during Bishop Brunett’s tenure in the diocese.
Bishop Brunett placed substantial emphasis on striving for unity beyond the perimeter of the Catholic Church. His expertise in ecumenism earned him a committee seat and later the chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. As a result, he traveled nationally and internationally for a variety of dialogue sessions during his tenure as Helena’s bishop.
A strong proponent of Catholic education, Bishop Brunett gave a great deal of attention to the diocesan schools. He appointed a diocesan superintendent of schools and endorsed changes at Carroll College to enhance its Catholic identity and improve its curriculum.
Bishop Brunett was named Archbishop of Seattle in 1997.