On January 20, 1971, Father Denis Daly became Pastor of the "nameless" Catholic Parish to be created on the east side of Billings. Twelve people were present at the first Mass. Eventually the parish gathered 76 families from the Heights, Lockwood and Shepherd areas for the Charter membership. The Eucharist was celebrated on a portable altar in the Teamsters Hall or at Atonement Lutheran Church.
By March 7th the Parish had a name and the ground was broken for St. Bernard’s Church and Hall on October 3rd. The original church was dedicated on October 29th, 1972. Who would have imagined that this first structure that seated 275 with overflow space in the hall for 225 would be overfilled in 10 years?
With $45,000 debt still remaining on the original facility, fund raising, additional land purchases, and construction plans began in the fall of 1980 with the urging of Bishop Thomas Murphy and the direction of Father Emmett Hoffmann and the Building Committee.
We broke ground for the new church on September 12th, 1982, with Bishop Murphy and hundreds of parishioners carrying their shovels to the construction site. It was a happy occasion.
Finally on November 12-13th, 1983, we gathered for our first weekend of Eucharistic celebration in the new St. Bernard’s. The new church was dedicated on November 27th, 1983 with 700 seats available with overflow space in the lobby for another 200!
The new facility has 26,200 square feet: 14,000 main floor, 11,000 basement. Our building debt of $1,200,000 was paid off in June of 1990. We were ready to go into debt again.
With 100’s of students in our Religious Education Program, we had a tremendous need for additional and larger classrooms. Thus the original church renovation began in June 1990. Walls and ceilings were insulated; fin-tube heating was added in each classroom, carpet and window replacements were added along with second floor storage and five classrooms in Daly Hall. This was done at a cost of $159,000 and was completed in September of 1990 and paid in full in November 1993.