Saturday, June 13, 2009

Getting Ready for My New Assignment

I sent the following to the local weekly to be published the day I arrive in my new parish.

Immaculate Conception parish to welcome new pastor

The parishioners at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fort Benton and Saint Margaret Catholic Church in Geraldine will be welcoming a new pastor on July 1. Father Leo McDowell has been appointed as the pastor of the parishes by Bishop Michael Warfel, the bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings with a formal installation ceremony to take place later in the summer.

Father McDowell grew up moving between Montana and South Dakota. His father was as USDA meat inspector which led to the family moves. Father McDowell went to high school in Forsyth, MT. Following high school Father McDowell attended school at MSU and, upon acceptance by the diocese as a seminarian, transferred to Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon where he completed his bachelor’s degree. Father McDowell then attended Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago where he completed his Master of Divinity degree in 1994.

Father McDowell was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings on June 8, 1994 at Saint Ann’s Cathedral in Great Falls. His first assignment was to Saint Patrick’s Co-Cathedral in Billings as the Parochial Vicar. While at Saint Patrick’s he also assisted at Holy Rosary and was involved with the Billings Catholic Schools.

In 1998 Father McDowell assumed responsibility for Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Circle, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jordan and Saint Francis deSales Catholic Church in Richey. It is from this experience that Father McDowell comes to our communities.

In October of 2008 Bishop Warfel asked Father McDowell to assume the additional duties of vocation director for the diocese. In addition to serving in the parish Father McDowell will be meeting with young men and women from around the state and beyond to talk about service in the church within the diocese. Father McDowell also serves as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve. He is currently assigned to Malmstrom AFB for his training responsibilities.

In his former communities, Father McDowell also helped out by volunteering and being trained as an EMT-B and wildland firefighter. As he states, "the flexibility of my schedule often makes it easier for me to help out in these areas, when I am in town." When asked about other activities Father McDowell mentioned that he has been involved with the Boy Scouts, enjoys the outdoors, camping and hunting.

When asked about his move to Fort Benton, Father McDowell admits, “After ten years, I’m going to miss my old parish, but I’m really looking forward to getting involved here and sharing in the history of the ‘Birthplace of Montana’”.
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