Father Leo McDowell

A Little About the Life of This Montana Priest

Who Is Father Leo?

Father McDowell was born in Rapid City, South Dakota and grew up moving between Montana and South Dakota. After graduating from high school in Forsyth, Montana in 1984, Fr. McDowell started his college education at Montana State University in Bozeman before transferring to Mount Angel College Seminary in Saint Benedict, Oregon. Upon completing his BA in Philosophy, Fr. McDowell attended Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He completed his Master of Divinity in 1994 and was ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings on June 8, 1994 at Saint Ann's Cathedral in Great Falls. Fr. McDowell's first assignment was to Saint Patrick's Co-cathedral in Billings, Montana. He also served as a sacramental minister to Holy Rosary parish in Billings during this time. Fr. McDowell ministry also included teaching a section of Freshman Religion at Billings Central Catholic High School.

After serving four years in Billings, Fr. McDowell was transferred to the eastern part of the diocese to serve in Jordan, Circle and Richey, Montana. Fr. McDowell spent 11 years serving the people of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jordan, Saint Francis Xavier in Circle and Saint Francis deSales in Richey. In Jordan, Fr. McDowell assisted with a major expansion of the church building, adding 50% additional seating in the main body of the church and adding a significant parish hall that is used for parish activities.

On July 1, 2009, Fr. McDowell was reassigned as Pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fort Benton, and Saint Margaret Catholic Church in Geraldine. This assignment continued until Easter 2012.

Effective April 9, 2012 Fr. McDowell was transferred to Saint Mary Catholic Church and School in Livingston, Montana. This assignment includes pastoral care to St. Joseph in Big Timber, Saint William in Gardiner and Saint Margaret Mary in Clyde Park.

In addition to serving as Pastor of Saint Mary's, Fr. McDowell is also the vocation director for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, responsible for working with young men who may have a call to serve the church as priests. He also serves as a Chaplain in the US Air Force Reserve.

Outdoor Life

Being in the outdoors is truly one of the most enjoyable things about my life. While I am busy as a priest, I also can find time in my parish to get into the outdoors. Whether it is time to float the Yellowstone for an afternoon, or a chance to pursue elk in the Missouri River Breaks, I enjoy it immensely.

This love of the outdoors has also lead to my involvement with the Boy Scouts. I've been a part of the council executive board, the director of our youth leadership training conferences and chaplain for four National Jamborees. In all of this, I've tried to expose those with whom I've been involved to a greater appreciation of what God has done for us, especially in his gift of creation. But, the best gift we've received is his Son.