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The remarkable life of a Laois priest who served in the USA for almost 70 years

Rev. Fr Charles Gorman, or Fr Charlie as he is known, passed away on Sunday March 29.

Originally from Ballinakill, Fr Charlie left this world at the age of 91 in the loving care of his close friends and the staff of Avantara in Billings, Montana, USA.

Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary have posted a wonderful obituary to Fr Charlie who served as a priest in the USA for 66 years.

Father Gorman was born on February 16, 1929, to Martin Gorman and Mary Ann Kirwan-Gorman, in Moate, Ballinakill, Laois, 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, in 1948, to prepare for priesthood. He was ordained to serve in the Diocese of Great Falls in the USA on June 6, 1954.

His first assignment was to serve at St. Joseph Parish in Great Falls for five years with a Monsignor 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 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.

Predeceased by his beloved parents Martin & Mary Anne (Kerwin); his brothers Paddy, Billy, Martin, Jimmy and Tommy; his sisters Katie (Phelan), Lizzie (Delahunty) and Mary (Delaney), and his nieces Margaret and Anne.

He will be sadly missed by his nieces and nephews, sister-in-law, grandnieces, grandnephews, great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews, his many cousins, extended family and a wide circle of friends in Ireland and the USA.

Fr. Charlie’s funeral will take place in Billings, Montana.

A Memorial Mass here in Laois will be arranged at a later date to celebrate his great life.

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