On March 4, 1976, Elden F. Curtiss was appointed the seventh Bishop of Helena. Bishop Curtiss made it his goal to try and unify and reconcile a sometimes divided and pluralistic church that culminated in his hosting a Diocesan Synod in 1988, the first in the diocese to involve the laity. One of the major outcomes of the synod was the formation of pastoral and finance councils in most of the parishes in the diocese. In 1984, Bishop Curtis led a series of celebrations called the “Pilgrimage of Faith” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the diocese. A colorful outdoor Centennial Mass at Carroll College capped the yearlong celebration.
Bishop Curtiss was a strong advocate of lay ministries in the Diocese of Helena. To this end, he established the Program of Formation of Lay Ministry in 1982. The two-year program of weekend instruction became a popular vehicle for enhancing the involvement of the laity in the Church and for those wishing to continue their studies in the Diaconate program. He also brought into the diocese the Renew process, a two-and-a-half year process of parish-centered spiritual development that brought participants together in small groups to discuss their faith. Bishop Curstiss endorsed this model of small Christian communities as a valuable means of spiritual growth for all parishioners in the diocese.
An ardent supporter of youth ministry, Bishop Curtiss took sweeping actions to raise up Church leaders from among the high school-age youths in the diocese. He sponsored weeklong training sessions at Legendary Lodge and annual Catholic Youth Coalition (CYC) Conventions at Carroll College. In 1986, he embarked on a “Journey with Youth,” a series of two-hour meetings with teens in each of diocese’s deaneries.
On May 4, 1993, Bishop Curtiss announced his appointment as the Archbishop of Omaha, Nebraska.