Father Joseph Byron Oblinger

May 25, 1921 -Sep 18, 2019

Father Joseph B. Oblinger died at his residence in Bozeman, Montana, the morning of September 18, 2019. In May 2019 he celebrated his 98th birthday and his 73rd anniversary of ordination; thereby being the Diocese of Helena priest oldest in age and longest ordained.

Joseph B. Oblinger was born in Big Valley, Alberta, Canada, on May 25, 1921, the son of Vern H. and Irene Michaud Oblinger. He attended Montana State University (University of Montana) in Missoula, Carroll College, and St. Edward Seminary, Kenmore, Washington. He was ordained as a priest on May 30, 1946.

Father Joe began his priestly ministry at the Chancery and served as Chancellor from September 1947 to September 1951. He returned as Chancellor from January 1960 through November 1967. He was Vicar General of the Diocese from October 1967 to February 1975 and from July 1976 to July 1977. He was Administrator of the Diocese during the time between Bishops Hunthausen and Curtiss, from May 1975 through April 1976. He was instrumental in assisting the Diocese to implement the Decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

During his long career, he served as Assistant at St. Ann Parish in Butte, Pastor of St. John Parish in Frenchtown, Chaplain at the Helena Good Shepherd Home, and Rector/Pastor of the Cathedral of Saint Helena. In 1997 he began House of Prayer ministry at Christhaven and was named Episcopal Vicar for Charismatic Renewal and Prayer Groups.

In July of 1991, he accepted Senior Status in the Diocese, living in Bozeman. Between 1996 and 2015, he provided priestly ministry to Our Lady of Pines Parish in West Yellowstone with St. Joseph of Big Sky Mission.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Lawrence “Buster” Oblinger, and he is survived by his brother Louis Oblinger and his sister Mabel Kaney; and by many nieces and nephews.

Visitation starting at 5:30 p.m., with the Rosary at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Funeral Vigil celebrated at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24, at Holy Rosary Parish in Bozeman. Visitation from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. followed by The Funeral Mass at Holy Rosary in Bozeman at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 25. Burial will be in the Priests’ Plot at Resurrection Cemetery in Helena at 11:00 on Thursday, September 26.

In the course of his long years of ministry he was actively involved with the Cursillo/Journey movement, Marriage encounter and the Charismatic Renewal. For many years he enjoyed hiking, camping, climbing, and alpine and cross-country skiing. He was a voracious reader. When he had his ‘midlife crisis’ at eighty years of age he authored 4 books. This was followed by a cherry red Chevy Cruse at ninety years of age. He loved being a priest and truly was a ‘Fisher of Men’ (and women).

Donations for Father Joe should be directed to the Foundation for the Diocese of Helena, Box 1729 Helena, Montana. Funds received will be deposited in the Oblinger/Provost perpetual endowment for Seminarian education.

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