Father Joseph Leo Byrne, 90, died on August 27, 2019. He was approaching the 65th anniversary of his ordination as a priest of the Diocese of Helena.
Joseph Leo Byrne was born July 3, 1929, the son of John L. Byrne and Minnie C. Greiner Byrne. He and his sister, Dorothy (who recently celebrated her 75th anniversary as a Sister of Providence), were raised near Kevin, Montana. He graduated from Great Falls Central High School and participated in the pre-seminary program at Carroll College. He attended the North American College in Rome, Italy, and was ordained as a priest on December 8, 1954. After completing his theological education, beginning in August of 1955, he served as Assistant Chancellor for one year.
Father Byrne served as Assistant at Immaculate Conception Parish in Butte, St. Joseph Parish in Harlowton, St. Joseph Parish in Libby, and St. Patrick Parish in Butte. Beginning in 1968, he served as Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Fairfield, Holy Rosary Parish in Bozeman, St. Mary Parish in Helena, and the Butte Catholic Community North. Following a sabbatical in 1986, he served Holy Cross Parish in Townsend from January 1987 until July 2012, when he took full Senior Status in the Diocese, residing in Helena and Townsend.
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In addition to his other responsibilities, from January 1970 through 2009, Father Byrne served as Diocesan Director for the Propagation of the Faith. He was Director of the Guatemala Mission in 1987 and 1988. He was preceded in death by his parents, John L. Byrne and Minnie C. Greiner Byrne. He is survived by his sister, Sister Dorothy Byrne, SP, of Spokane, Washington.
Visitation is set for 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at Saint Mary Catholic Community, 1700 Missoula Ave., followed by a Vigil Service at 5:00 p.m. at the church. A Funeral Mass with Monsignor Kevin O’Neill, Diocesan Administrator, is scheduled for 12:10 p.m., Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at Saint Mary Catholic Community with a reception to follow at the church. Burial will be held following the reception in the Priests’ Plot at Resurrection Cemetery with Priests of the Diocese serving as Pallbearers. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence or to share a memory of Father Byrne.