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Sanders County Catholic Community
416 Preston Ave
PO Box 186
Thompson Falls, MT 59873
Phone: (406) 827-4433
A Parish of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena MT

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St. William, Thompson Falls
St. William Parish, Thompson Falls

There was a lovely Catholic Church in the Clark Fork area called St. James, in Plains, Montana. For many years St. James was the mother parish of its neighboring town, Thompson Falls. But then a pastor came to St. James parish named Father Patrick Brown. Father Brown was a far-sighted young man and he could see that Thompson Falls really did need a church building. So he started the ball rolling. Father Brown, as had pastors before him, had held Mass in the homes of members of the Catholic community in Thompson Falls. Before the church was built, Mass was said in the old Episcopal Church right next to the old Catholic Church. the old Catholic church is now the Masonic Temple. It was originally purchased from the Catholics by the school district and used as the music hall. When the decision to build a mission church in Thompson Falls was reached, Father Brown approached Norman LaFriniere who owned some lots and outbuildings and the house on the corner of Spruce and Preston streets. This was the site of the old Preston home and Preston`s Livery Stable. Construction on the cement church building went well and the building was completed in December 1955 at a cost of $33,000. Part of the money for the church was donated from a grant from the Catholic Extension Society of America.. The church was dedicated on September 20, 1956, by Bishop Gilmore. Four priests presided: Fathers Patrick Brown, Bernard Sullivan, Amon O Sullivan and Robert McCarthy. Msgr. Dennis Mead, pastor of St. Anthony in Missoula, gave the sermon. The first wedding in the new church was that between Peggy Stobie and Larry McCarthy. The first baptism was that of Elizabeth Bemis Huff. Soon after the church was completed, Father Brown was able to have Thompson Falls made an independent parish. There were about 20 active families in the parish at that time. There is a story that the reason the parish was named St. William was because the bishop in charge of the Extension Society at the time was named William and he stipulated that the parish be named after him. Pastors: Fr. Patrick Brown; Fr. Sarsfield O Sullivan; Fr. William Gannon; Fr. William Waggoner (Administrator); Fr. M. J. Beemster; Fr. Bernard Sullivan; Fr. George Ferguson; Fr. Louis Geis (Administrator); Fr. Leo Proxell; Fr. Michael Smith; Fr. William Dornbos; Fr. Cyril Hunkler; Fr. Jack Hunthausen (Administrator); Fr. Ken Fortney; and Fr. Jeff Benusa 


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