A Catholic Presence in Rocky Boy

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 over 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.

In 1959, Father Raymond Nyquist became pastor and started building up the Catholic Church presence on the reservation. In 1960, the old Catholic Church at Hingham, Montana was moved to Rocky Boy, and became the new Catholic Church.During the 1960’s, the Catholic Family Movement (CFM) group from Austin, Minnesota, made contact with Father Nyquist, and each summer, families would come out to help at the parish. College age volunteers came from all over the United States to help. It was a time of much involvement of Rocky Boy people and volunteers from other areas. Some of the summer volunteers stayed on after college graduation to teach at the Rocky Boy Elementary School and to do parish ministry.

In 1970, the first resident Pastor, Peter Guthneck, moved from Big Sandy to live at Rocky Boy. He initiated the building of the new log St. Mary Catholic Church structure. This was a community project under the direction of a volunteer, Mike Ley, who lived with the Pastor. Trees from Baldy Mountain on the reservation were used to build the church. The first mass celebrated in the new log church was on Easter Sunday, 1980. In 1981 the Rocky Boy people built a new parish house next to the church for the Pastor. Over 41 years, Father Guthneck served as pastor for St. Mary’s until his retirement in 2018.

Father Joseph Tran came in 2018 to serve as pastor for St. Mary’s.

On December 14, 2019, St. Mary Church had a tragic fire due to a faulty furnace. No one was hurt in the fire. However, the church building was a total loss. The parish has received approval to rebuild a new church building on the same site and that work is currently in progress. View the “Our New Church” section to follow the rebuilding progress. Please offer prayers up for the rebuilding of our new church!

Let’s build something together.
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