Rev. Charles “Father Charlie” Gorman, 91 years of age, died on March 29, 2020, in Billings, after having served as a Catholic priest in eastern Montana for 66 years.
There will be a private graveside committal service at Holy Cross Cemetery; due to the COVID-19 quarantine, the Funeral Vigil and the Memorial Mass remain to be scheduled at a later date, both of which will be held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Billings.
Father Gorman was born on Feb. 16, 1929, to Martin Gorman and Mary Ann Kirwan Gorman, in Moate, Ballinakill, County Laois, Ireland, the youngest of 12 children. He was raised on a farm where he worked all the chores with his family, attended Mass every Sunday and prayed the Rosary every evening. He attended grade school and high school in Ballinakill and then attended Knockbeg College. With the encouragement of Father Brennan, he enrolled in St. Patrick’s Seminary, Thurles, Ireland, in 1948, to prepare for priesthood. He was ordained to serve in the Diocese of Great Falls on June 6, 1954.
His first assignment was to serve at St. Joseph Parish in Great Falls for five years with Msgr. Treacy, a fellow Laois man. Also living in Great Falls was Patrick Mansfield (from the same village in Ireland), whose son Mike was the famous U.S. Senator from Montana. Father Gorman moved briefly to serve at Holy Rosary Parish in Billings, and then returned to St. Joseph’s in 1955. His role as an assistant priest continued with his assignment to St. Ann Cathedral in Great Falls in 1959. In September of 1959, he began to serve as administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Hysham, Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Pompey’s Pillar, and St. Mary Parish in Custer.
In 1967, he served briefly as administrator of Holy Family Parish in Great Falls, and then was elevated to pastor of that parish the following year. In 1975, he was granted a sabbatical leave for prayer and study at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, culminating with a 30-Day Retreat with Father Armand Nigro, S.J.
From 1976 to 1978, he served as pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Billings, and then moved to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Circle as administrator. In 1979, he returned to Billings to serve as co-pastor of St. Thomas Parish, as well as to provide leadership for the Newman Center at MSU Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College) and for the Sacred Heart Renewal Center. His next assignment was as pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Laurel, with duties as sacramental minister in the parishes in Bridger, Fromberg and Joliet.
He retired in March 1994, but remained very active in pastoral service, returning to Ireland to serve in his home parish. At times he would visit Alaska to fish and visit friends, but he also did parish work in different parishes there, and even started a women’s scripture study group, which continued for 22 years.
Since his health allowed continued activity, he was able to return to Montana to serve as administrator of St. Mary Parish in Columbus from 2000 to 2006, when he retired for a second time and moved to Westpark Village in Billings, where he truly enjoyed ministering to the residents.
Father Charlie is lovingly survived by many nieces and nephews, both in Ireland and in the USA.
Father Charlie always appreciated the loving presence of God and experienced it in all the people and places he ministered. He expressed his gratitude for his family in Ireland, the priests and bishops he worked with, and the people he served in Montana and Alaska. He believed in the goodness of people everywhere, and always preached the love of God for all.