The Diocese of Helena is filled with joy and pride that young people from across our diocese and beyond continue to heed the Lord’s call in their lives. This year we celebrate the addition of five new Seminarians and two young women entering religious communities.

Whether to the priesthood, religious life, married life, or single life, please continue to pray for vocations.

Meet Our New Seminarians

CARTER ANDERSON | Originally from Great Falls, Mont., Carter attended Great Falls Central Catholic High School, followed by Carroll College, where he earned his bachelor’s degrees in Biology and French in 2019 with a desire to attend optometry school. Upon graduating, he was accepted into the Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, Calif. His discernment of the priesthood eventually led him back to Helena. “Through the blessing of a good family, holy and magnanimous priests in my life, and a life of prayer, I felt called to enter seminary,” he said. “I believe the Lord led me through others; be it spiritual fathers, brother seminarians, or many prayerful folks throughout the Diocese, it was the tangible support of these individuals and the Lord that gave me courage to say ‘yes’ to Christ’s invitation.” When asked how the faithful of the diocese could pray for him, he said: “Please pray that I may have a simple heart, one ready to receive whatever gifts the Lord is wanting to give.” He is studying at St. Paul Seminary in Minneapolis.

SHAE BILLS | Shae grew up in Ennis, Mont., and attended school at Bozeman High School. Upon graduating, he picked Carroll College for his continued education, stating: “I picked Carroll because I wanted to attend a school which challenged me academically, cultivated my longing for the faith, and provided many opportunities for outdoor recreation.” It was at Carroll where he first began to hear the call towards seminary. “I began to feel called to join the seminary after going on a two-week pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi my freshman year. I was able to begin discerning more intentionally during my remaining three years at Carroll, where I was able to grow and mature as a leader, and more importantly, I learned how to be a son of God.” When asked how the people of the diocese could pray for him, he responded: “For clarity in my discernment, as well as the grace to live in the present. I will be keeping the people of the Diocese of Helena in my prayers as well.” He is studying at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

LANE BUUS | Lane hails from Ennis, Mont., and attended Harrison High School in Harrison, Mont. Faith formation experiences in high school eventually inspired his decision to attend Carroll College, where he received a degree in Nursing. “I had a great group of friends, peer ministers, campus ministers, and other mentors that pushed me to take the faith more seriously. I started to pray every day and I started going to mass a few times a week. I also worked at Legendary Lodge as a camp counselor. After being so blessed with these experiences and getting to see the witness of so many people that have followed the Lord, I could see that the Lord was inviting me to give Him a chance at the seminary.” When asked how the people of diocese could pray for him, he responded: “With this being my first year, I could use prayers for surrendering and giving myself over to the year. Please pray that I can give everything to the Lord without reservation.” Lane is studying at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

MATT KECK | Matt grew up in Everett, Wash. where he attended Archbishop Murphy High School. He moved to Montana to attend Carroll College, which was where the turning point in his discernment took place. “During my sophomore year, I devoted a lot of time to prayer, and it was really during the pandemic year, when I was kept from the Eucharist and the Sacraments, that I realized how much I needed Christ in my life. I continued to follow Christ and deepened my relationship with Him,” he said. When asked how the faithful of the diocese could pray for him, he responded: “Please pray for me while I continue to discern the priesthood in seminary and for greater freedom to do whatever Jesus asks of me.” Matt is studying at St. Paul Seminary in Minneapolis.

JACK PEED | Jack is originally from Rathdrum, Idaho. He was homeschooled through 12th grade, and then decided to attend Carroll College, where he felt the Lord calling to him in a particular way. “While in college I began to pursue the faith for the sake of relationship with Christ, growing closer to Him through prayer, daily Mass, and adoration,” he said. “The Lord called me in a special way through serving others as a part of Campus Ministry at Carroll, and through a love for the sacraments, particularly Holy Communion and Confession.” When asked how the people of the Diocese of Helena could pray for him, he responded: “I would greatly appreciate prayers for clarity in discernment as well as surrender and conformity to God’s will.” Jack is studying at St. Paul Seminary in Minneapolis.

Young Women Joining Religious Communities
Mary Catherine Matthews spoke with Bishop Vetter prior to her Aspirancy with the Missionaries of Charity.

Mary Catherine Matthews

Drawn to the thriving Catholic community at St. John Vianney Parish and the sound classical Catholic education offered at Diving Mercy Academy, Mary Catherine Matthews’ family relocated to Belgrade, Mont. from Joseph, Ore. in 2020.

Homeschooled through 8th grade and, learning about the saints, Mary Catherine developed a deep affection for St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity. She recalled that the stories of St. Care of Assisi and St. Therese of Lisieux inspired her at a young age. She said, “Starting at about 7, It was always on my mind that religious life was what I wanted when I got older.”

After High School, when sending college applications, she also applied to the Missionaries of Charity. The order encouraged her to seek a spiritual director and attend a “Come and see” week the Missionaries of Charity in Chicago in a year. With the support of her parents, Mary Catherine decided to seriously discern religious life prior to going to Chicago. She began spiritual direction with Fr. Eric Gilbaugh, Pastor of St. John Vianney. According to Fr. Eric, direction is simple; someone who is versed in the spiritual life aiding another person’s growth. He said, “When it comes to vocations you need to let the Lord lead with trust. Commit to a path and trust that God will make it abundantly clear if that path should change.”

At the “Come and See” Mary Catherine joined in prayer and service to the poor and attended presentations on the spirituality of St. Mother Theresa and the order’s charism, to serve Christ “in the most distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.” Mary Catherine felt unequal to the calling but at the same time more deeply called, saying, “I realized that God can give me the gift of depending on him and I believe that he wants to.”

Mary Catherine entered the Missionaries of Charity as an Aspirant in August. This is an extended invitation to “Come and see” and further discern her calling. After 18 months, she may move forward as a Postulant, then a Novice before taking temporary, and then final, vows.

Maggie with her acceptance letter from the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus.

Maggie Phelan

Maggie Phelan, ‘21, started discerning a vocation to the religious life at Carroll College. As a freshman, the truth of the personhood of Christ struck her unexpectedly, “My campus minister showed us All Saints Chapel, and we really just had a conversation. That’s when I met Jesus as a real person,” she said. She was drawn God and to His love for her, especially during prayer in the chapel each day. She also found encouragement and Catholic community on campus through retreats, campus ministry activities, and weekday Masses. She said, “I discovered the reason for my joy and others that had known it before me.”

On a Campus Ministry mission trip, Sr. Laura Toth of the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago witnessed first-hand to Maggie the joy and beauty of devotion to Christ in religious life. They became friends and stayed in touch. Maggie started openly discerning religious life her junior year and started spiritual direction at the invitation of Fr. Christopher Lebsock, Pastor of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish and an adjunct professor at Carroll.

Maggie graduated with a BA in Health Sciences and Public Health, minoring in Catholic Studies. She then worked as the Diocesan Receptionist, Bishop’s Assistant, and as the Diocese of Helena’s representative to the regional Synod on Synodality. During this time, her discernment continued, and Maggie met and spoke with a handful of religious from different orders. Ultimately, she found the most peace applying to the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus in the Diocese of New Ulm in Minnesota.

Maggie Phelan, bottom right, with the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus in Hopkins, Minn.

After prayerful and active discernment with the order, The Handmaids accepted Maggie as a postulant in August of this year.

The Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus were established in the Diocese of New Ulm by Bishop John LeVoir in 2010. The sisters bear witness through their consecrated presence and apostolic work in parishes and schools and through giving support and encouragement to the bishop and priests of the diocese. Their website reads, “Having experienced the fullness of life in God through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we desire to bring everyone we meet into a deep and personal relationship with God, in Whom all find their true home.”

For those that know her, inviting others into a deep and personal relationship with God sounds like a natural fit for Maggie. We pray that Maggie’s time of postulancy will be fruitful for her, the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus, and all who are served by the order.