Welcome to St. Mary Catholic Church
on the Rocky Boy Reservation!
After a year and a half of waiting and praying, the community at St. Mary Catholic Church in Rocky Boy, Montana, was finally able to celebrate the groundbreaking for its new church building on June 20, 2021. Nearly 100 people gathered on the church grounds to attend the Sunday Mass with Bishop Michael Warfel in thanksgiving for all that God has bestowed on the parish to get to this point.
The Elders of the Rocky Boy Reservation, Fr. Pete Guthneck (former St. Mary pastor), Fr. Joseph Tran (current St. Mary pastor), community leaders, the parish council and many parishioners joined the groundbreaking ceremony after the Mass. Bishop Warfel and an elder from the Rocky Boy Reservation said a prayer over the land where the foundation of the new church will be built. Special guests, including donors Fr. Marvin Bries and Barbara and William Cowan, were invited to make a symbolic toss of dirt onto the land. Bishop Warfel also blessed a cornerstone for the new building.
The groundbreaking event marks a huge milestone for the St. Mary parish, after the church experienced a devastating fire due to a faulty furnace in December 2019, causing the entire church to burn to ashes. While initial progress was made to begin the rebuilding efforts in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought planning to a halt. During the wait, the parish began fundraising efforts to keep some momentum going and positive spirits up for parishioners. Finally, in April 2021, a contract was signed with Dick Anderson Construction.
“We are excited to move forward to build a new home for God on the Rocky Boy Reservation,” said Fr. Tran. “There are still many challenges we will face to complete the project, but it’s important for us to take these special moments to celebrate and give thanks to God and everyone who is praying for and supporting us.”
One of the biggest challenges St. Mary is facing right now as it begins to rebuild is the rising cost of construction materials due to the pandemic. The total cost to rebuild St. Mary is $2.3 million, which is $700,000 more than what had been initially estimated prior to the pandemic. “We are still short approximately $400,000, and will continue to fundraise while construction begins.”
After the groundbreaking ceremony, the parish drew a winner in its rebuilding raffle. RJS and Associates was the winner of the 2021 Can Am Defender. Thank you to all who supported St. Mary Catholic Church through the raffle fundraiser!
Watch the progress of the rebuild! (last updated 08.23.2021)
On Saturday, December 14, 2019, St. Mary Church had a tragic fire. We are grateful that no one was hurt in the fire. However, the church building was a total loss. The church was the spiritual center for both Catholics and non-Catholics on the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana. It served the people of the Chippewa Cree tribe for 40 years at that location on the reservation. Many tribal members found healing, love, compassion and mercy there as they participated in many Sacraments and services that marked important milestones in their lives — from birth to marriage to death. While the building is lost, the spirit of the people here remains strong, and we are working to rebuild St. Mary Church. In doing so, our hope is to continue to bring God to the people on the Rocky Boy Reservation and provide a place of hope, community and faith for those who seek it.
St. Mary Catholic Church sits on the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana and has become a spiritual center for both Catholics and non-Catholics on the Reservation. It has been serving the people of the Chippewa Cree tribe for 40 years. Many tribal members found healing, love, compassion and mercy there as they participated in many Sacraments and services that marked important milestones in their lives — from birth to marriage to death.
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