Fr. David Reichling OFM, Cap.
I have been with St. Bernard’s as Pastor since 1982 and St. Cyril & Methodius parish in Ballantine since 1988. I came with the expectation of staying a couple years until the new church was built, but lo and behold, I am still here enjoying so many people & Montana.
I am a member of the St. Joseph Province of Capuchin-Franciscans, headquartered in Detroit & one of 9 Capuchins assigned to ministry in Montana from Broadus to Billings, and we gather regularly for prayer and fellowship.
I came here from St. Joe parish in Appleton, Wisconsin, where I was an associate pastor for four years. The parish was 35 miles from my hometown, Fond du Lac, where I grew up with seven siblings, one of whom is also a Capuchin priest in Billings. I was ordained in 1967.
A great joy for me is sharing weekend Eucharist; another is sharing those special moments of joy, and sometimes pain too, in the lives of so many people, with marriages, births & baptisms, first communions, anniversaries, achievements in work & school and sports, reconciliation’s and transitions. Folks open their lives so generously to pastoral attention in the significant moments of their lives. I also enjoy the big sky, sunny dry climate and wide-open spaces of Montana. One of my enjoyable past times is short trips to the mountains and forests with my troop of small dogs.
Bookkeeper / Business Manager
Bitsy Merchant started her employment with St. Bernard’s in 2002. She had previously worked for St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral. She enjoys working in her home parish among all of her fellow parishioners.
Bitsy is a native Montanan, born in “chilly” northeastern Montana where her parents farmed. She moved to Billings after high school and spent two years working her way through Billings Business College, formerly known as BBC. She worked for Studer construction and Brown’s Auto Service for several years before finally finding her way to “church work.” Her fellow employees used to call her “the church lady.”
Bitsy is the Office Manager and Bookkeeper for St. Bernard’s. She works closely with Fr. David preparing the budget and prepares all financial reports. She is in charge of keeping track of all parishioners, additions, deletions or anything in between. She compiles the Ministry Schedule, edits the newsletters and gets them ready for mailing.
Bitsy is married to Harry and they have four children. Outside of work she finds time to be involved in a great many extra curricular activities. She has been heavily involved with the Cum Christo until a few years ago and is now working with Homeward Bound.
Mary Strauss joined the parish staff December 1, 2006. She greets visitors; answers questions or directs them to the proper people; handles the telephones and mail; schedules Mass Intentions, records marriages, baptisms, first communions and confirmations in the record books and sends out proper certificates. She emails reminder notes to those who are scheduled as ministers each week and parish council meeting announcements. Mary has been a member of St. Bernard’s for since 1982. She currently is chair for The Worship and Liturgy Committee, is a wedding assistant, a sacristan, lector and helps out where needed. She has also been a part of the music, taught CCD, headed up RCIA, among a few things.
Mary’s hobbies include photography and sports. She is also involved with Cum Christo and Homeward Bound (ministry at the Women's Prison).
Before joining the parish staff she had been in dentistry for 23 years as an assistant and receptionist. She was born in Missoula, MT and raised in Polson, MT. She graduated from Polson High School and Montana State University – Bozeman, with a degree in teaching. She enjoys traveling back to the Flathead Valley for visits and returning to her roots and what she calls “God’s Country.”
Donna Choriki-Ayers has been a music director in the Diocese of Great Falls Billings for approximately 17 years. She was at St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral and then at Holy Rosary and Little Flower Churches for the past 13 years. My position here at St. Bernard’s includes planning the music for all Masses, preparing the weekly music sheets, directing the children’s choir, the Sunday Choir and playing the piano and singing. I am also involved in many diocesan events such as ordinations, Chrism Mass, workshops in the area or where ever I am needed. My husband and I have 6 children, ranging from 14 to 28 years old. We have 2 that attend school in the heights at Castlerock and Skyview HS.
We also have 4 grandchildren, so far. We live in the “extreme heights” almost to Shepherd, with our horses, dogs, cats, and chickens.I am involved with both Venture Theatre and Billings Studio Theatre as a Music Director for musical productions, and have private piano students in my spare time.
DRE / Youth Minister
Brian Shea serves as the DRE and the youth minister here at St. Bernard’s Church. He has been here since 2003 and is in charge of the 5th/6th Grade, Junior High, and High School Youth Groups here at the church. Besides working for St. Bernard’s Church Brian puts on retreats for Billings Central and helps run the Search program. He also occasionally helps work some of the Cum Christo weekends.
Brian graduated high school from Billings Central in 1998 and graduated college from Gonzaga University in 2002. While at Gonzaga he got a major in Religious Studies and minors in History, Sociology, Philosophy, and a Certificate of Youth Ministry. After graduating from Gonzaga, Brian headed to Maine for a year and worked at a homeless shelter and crisis hotline for the Jesuit Volunteer Corp. In the summer of 2006 Brian got married to Erica and the two of them had their first child Grace in April of 2008 and Connor joined them in 2011.
Brian has plenty of experience working in youth ministry. While at Gonzaga he also was the director of the junior high and high school youth groups at St. Aloysius Church for three years, director of Gonzaga’s annual Pilgrimage Retreat for two years, and led a Bible Study all four years. Brian also spent two summers working for the Diocese of Helena as a counselor at Legendary Lodge in 2001 and 2002.
Brian’s interests other than work and family are reading, all sports, board games, road trips and anything that gets him outdoors in God’s creation.
Children’s Faith Formation Director
Ann joined the staff at St. Bernard in April 2009 as Director of Children’s Faith Formation. Her position includes the formation of religious education programs for children in grades K – 4, preparation for the sacraments of reconciliation, Confirmation and first Eucharist, and formation for volunteer catechists. Vacation Bible School is an annual faith-filled summer celebration that Ann especially enjoys!
Previously, Ann served as a catechist for four years teaching second, third and fourth grade in the religious education program at St. Bernard. She and her husband Shane have been members of St. Bernard Church since moving to Billings in 1994. They have two children, Castle and Sophia. They both attend Alkali Creek Elementary School.
Ann (Malisani) Salisbury grew up in Great Falls, the youngest in a Catholic Italian-American family of eight. Faith and family were the foundations of her childhood. Working with Children’s Faith Formation is an opportunity for her to share these gifts and honor the Lord.
Ann graduated from the University of Great Falls in 1990 and Mount Hood College of Mortuary Science in Gresham, Oregon in 1993. Ann has been a licensed mortician for 15 years. She enjoys cooking and eating European-style meals, entertaining guests, tracing family roots, and taking long family hikes and bike rides on Sundays.
Adult Faith Formation (RCIA)
I joined St Bernard’s in 1995 with my wife Kari and son Cody. I began to become an active member in 1997 when my wife was Baptized through the RCIA program, shortly after our daughter Brady was born. As an active member of St Bernard’s Parish I have served as an Religious Education teacher, Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Sacristan, RCIA Team member, on Parish Council and in the Liturgy committee. St Bernard’s Parish is truly a part of my family life as we have made many lasting friendships through the church. As the new RCIA director I wish to welcome all who come to join the Catholic Church and those wishing to come home and complete their sacramental rites. I am filled with joy at the opportunity to share the faith that has been given to me and pray for all that continue to walk with Christ.
Priscilla Moorhouse has been the Parish Nurse Coordinator since 2000. She had retired from School District #2 that spring after 17 years as a school nurse. Her early years of nursing include floor nurse at St.Vincent's, Public health nurse for the Division of Indian Health at Ft. Washakie, WY and substitute teacher in Worland. She married John, traveled to several other Indian Reservations, and raised 3 children, Judd, Jennie and Mary -Margret. The Moorhouses have been at St. Bernard's for 25years now, active in parish living as past council member, pro-life, CCD teacher and lector. Her favorite time is spent with the 10 grandchildren, fishing, gardening, reading and people.
Janitorial / Housekeeping
Don started as the custodian at St. Bernard’s around 1996. He does the general cleaning and maintenance of the church. Don has been married to Ellen for 45 years and they have 3 adult children and 8 grandchildren. They are charter members of St. Bernard’s. Don and Ellen like to travel and go camping. But mostly just enjoy spending time with their family.
Janitorial / Housekeeping