Father Leo Proxell

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

Whether in Mass or in performance with the Missoula Symphony Chorale, Father Leo Proxell has music in his soul and a talent that has been nurtured by the diocese.

Father Proxell was ordained in 1977 in Butte, and first served as associate pastor in Conrad at St. Michael’s. He moved to Thompson Falls to become administrator at St. William’s, then on to Christ the King, where he was again associate pastor.

Father Proxell has always loved music, and has been involved in choirs or singing groups wherever possible. He wanted to get a degree in liturgical music, however, so the diocese sent him to get an undergraduate degree in music at the University of Montana. While there, he assisted at several parishes, including Pope John XXIII in Missoula and St. Michael’s in Drummond.

Next, he moved to Carroll College, where he was chaplain and director of Campus Ministry and taught comparative religions. At the same time, he spent his summers at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., where he received his master’s in liturgical music. While at Carroll College, he was also director of the Cathedral Choir, a position that lasted for nine years.

Then he moved to St. Michael’s in Conrad, where he was pastor, and finally to Holy Rosary in Bozeman, which, he says, is blessed with a first-class organist and choir director.

He feels music is an important part of the liturgy. “Music touches a deep part of a person’s life and that’s where God dwells. I think we’re able to connect more deeply with God with good music.”

“I feel extremely blessed to be part of our diocese,” he added. “Our diocese has a wonderful and very long-standing tradition of giving priests an opportunity to get advanced degrees. Further, my priesthood has grown and developed because of the support and prayers of those I serve. Priesthood doesn’t just float out of nothing – it comes from the service I give to others, but even more from the ministry of those I serve.”

Published in The Montana Catholic, Vol. 20, No. 5, May 21, 2004.