Bishop Raymond G. Hunthausen was a Montana native and president of Carroll College. His episcopacy coincided with Vatican Council II and was marked with great change both within the diocese and within the Church itself. The greatest change came with the increased participation and involvement by the laity in Church matters.
In the early Montana Church, Native American missions played an important role. In 1963, a new mission was established by the diocese in the Central American country of Guatemala under the leadership of Father Jim Hazelton. In a cooperative agreement with the Diocese of Solola, the Diocese of Helena sent priests, sisters, and lay people to work in two parishes in that country. In addition to religious work, the diocese has been providing educational, medical, and social services since that time.
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a crisis in Catholic education in the Diocese of Helena. Continuing financial difficulties and an increasing lack of religious personnel forced the closure of most Catholic elementary and high schools. Today, only six Catholic schools remain in operation in the diocese. The closure, however, led to a strengthened Religious Education program which functions in every parish and is coordinated by a central office.
In the spring of 1975, Archbishop Thomas Connolly of Seattle retired and Bishop Hunthausen was named Seattle’s second Archbishop.