History of St. Thomas the Apostle Church
In order to provide adequate spiritual care for the large number of Catholics living in West Billings, the Most Reverend William J. Condon, D.D., the third Bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls, established the Parish of St. Thomas the Apostle on September 20, 1965. Father Thomas F. Powers was appointed its first pastor.
Mass was celebrated at the Knights of Columbus Hall for four months. On January 23, 1966, a small church building was completed and served as the first St. Thomas Church building. As the community grew, it became clear they should move forward with plans for a larger, permanent church. Four and a half years later, October 1969, construction began on the new building. The original building was converted to a gymnasium, and the first Mass in the present church was celebrated on September 6, 1970.
1988 brought the 1st renovation. This included carpeting the nave of the church, adding classrooms, office space and a multi-purpose room with an updated kitchen. The renovation connected the gymnasium with the main building.
In 2005, the parishioners saw a need for brightening the environment in the church. An extensive building project resulted in new pews arranged to encompass the altar, new sound system, lighting and tile flooring. The confessionals were converted to the side alcoves. The tabernacle was moved to the side altar and a Reconciliation Chapel was added. During the renovation, the St. Thomas parishioners once again resorted to the gymnasium for worship. Bishop Milone blessed the newly renovated church on March 5, 2006.
In 2014, under the leadership of our pastor, Fr. Steve Zabrocki, the finance, parish and the development councils called for a major renovation of our facilities in order to support the growing, active parish community. After a broad level of consultation of the parish family, three priorities were identified, fund-raised, and executed between Spring of 2014 and Fall of 2017: 1) The parish church was enlarged and received a new Gathering Area which opened to the street providing more space for young families with children, new restrooms, and additional room to accommodate extremely large crowds, and 2) The gymnasium was significantly adapted to become a large, flexible parish center providing additional space for parish gatherings, meals and formation opportunities as well as a new kitchen, and 3) parish offices were renovated and centralized to provide efficient ministry service to the community. Bishop Michael Warfel blessed the newly renovated facilities on September 10, 2017. Enjoy the video below courtesy of parishioner Justin Voeller who was instrumental in the Audio/Visual work during this renovation:
We, the Catholic community of St. Thomas, called to follow in the footsteps of Christ, seek holiness through prayer, action, and the promotion of the reign of God within this faith community, the Church and the World. Guided by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the Eucharist, we respond to the call of our Baptism and the gifts of faith and redemption. At the heart of our lives together is the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the culmination of our Baptismal commitment and the source of our strength and unity.
Committing ourselves to give God thanks and praise, both privately and publicly.
Welcoming and affirming the glorious diversity of all God’s children, and seeking to heal the wounds caused by prejudice and bias.
Respecting and listening to one another while modeling and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our family, the domestic Church, our parish community and the whole world.
Becoming the loving hands of God reaching out to those in need.
It is our hope that St. Thomas the Apostle Parish be a community
- Where all people feel welcomed and experience hospitality.
- Where comfort is shown to those who are afflicted, and challenge is given to those who are too comfortable, too complacent, too faithless.
- Where Eucharist is central and celebrated in a way that informs the mind and heart with the fullness of the Gospel message and inspires through music, song and preaching that makes real connections with daily life.
- Where sacraments are readily available and all Catholics are able to receive them throughout all stages of life.
- Where the sanctity of all human life is supported, especially the unborn, the aged and the infirm.
- Where the poor, the vulnerable, the needy and the marginalized are not only received into our parish, but actively sought out.
- Where social justice is embodied in all parishioners.
- Where religious education and spiritual formation are provided from childhood to senior years.
- Where all members of the parish know themselves as disciples of Jesus.
- Where stewardship has become a way of life and where all parish ministries are fully staffed and funded.
- Where evangelization is understood as a responsibility of all, efforts to invite people into the Church are fruitful, and the Rite of Christian Initiation is fully celebrated.
- Where people respond generously to religious life and priesthood.
- Where our Catholic schools receive strong support and flourish.
- Where we are “Alive In Christ” communally and individually.