All changes would be made on as “as needed” basis. If there are fewer priests to serve the Butte Deanery, the following changes may be made:If there are fewer priests available to serve, the proposed plan would maintain two priests or, if possible, three priests to serve the city of Butte. There would be at least one for the North Unit and one for the South Unit. The North Unit would continue to be responsible for the pastoral care of students at both the Catholic high school and at Montana Tech. St. Joseph Church would be carefully evaluated annually following a sustainability study to determine if it remains a viable parish. St. John and Holy Spirit would be clustered with St. Ann. Where financially feasible, there would continue to be pastoral administrators serving in parishes if there is no resident priest.

One priest would serve the Dillon area churches. It would be helpful to have a priest who had some Spanish language skills or perhaps a deacon with some Spanish language skills. There is a growing Hispanic population in this area and they could benefit from services in Spanish. The plan calls for discontinuing the Mass in Wisdom and continuing to evaluate providing a Mass in Lima. Service to Wisdom would be discontinued only after specific permission is obtained from the Bishop. Dillon and Melrose would be served by one priest.

In the Laurin, Ennis, Whitehall and Twin Bridges area, the recommendation is for one priest in Sheridan with a pastoral administrator in Whitehall and a deacon to help. Currently there is no Mass at Sheridan but there is a residence available there which is centrally located to Twin Bridges, Ennis and Laurin. It is understood that Mass would not be available at every site each weekend; Sunday Celebration in the absence of a priest provided by someone trained to provide it could be available in those areas where there is no Sunday Mass scheduled on a weekend. Good catechesis will be necessary prior to initiating this schedule so that there is no confusion regarding Sunday Celebrations in the absence of a priest. This model would be phased in depending on the availability of priests.

One priest would serve Deer Lodge with outreach to the prison. There was also conversation about one priest with a deacon or two priests and a supportive staff serving the Anaconda and Deer Lodge area with outreach to the prison in Deer Lodge.

There would be one priest and, if possible, also one deacon in Anaconda. Other ideas important to the Planning Group:

  • This planning group advocated for finding practical and affordable ways to better use technology in reaching our educational goals.
  • There is need to have professional training provided for those who will conduct the Sunday Celebration in the absence of a priest.
  • There is a growing Hispanic population in the Dillon area and it would be helpful to begin to identify someone who could provide pastoral ministry to this group in Spanish.
  • The Deanery feels it could function with a minimum of six – seven priests.

All sites in this Deanery and throughout the Diocese will be part of a yearly, ongoing process to study their sustainability. Some of the aspects of this study will include a yearly look at Parish Mass attendance, annual offertory income, debt retirement (if any), parish plant maintenance, and parish and diocesan financial obligations met. It will also consider parish vitality and engagement. This study will be completed each year and any adjustments needed to the plan will follow.