Rev. Richard J. Hopkins
Published 10 months ago by The Billings Gazette

Rev. Richard J. Hopkins

Rev. Richard J. Hopkins, 98, died on Aug. 22, 2017, in San Diego, California. He was an active priest of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings for 45 years, retiring in 1989, and he continued to serve in retirement, dividing his pastoral service between California and eastern Montana.

Father Hopkins was born in Billings on May 26, 1919, the son of Arthur H. Hopkins and Florentine (Weidenkoff) Hopkins. He received his elementary schooling at Fratt Memorial School in Billings, graduating in 1933. The Ursuline Academy and St. Mary’s Institute (graduating in 1937), both in Great Falls, provided his secondary education.

He went to Mount Angel Seminary College in St. Benedict, Ore. (graduating in 1941 with a B.A. degree), and completed his theological studies at St. Edward Sulpician Seminary of the Northwest in Kenmore, Wash., with an M.Div. degree in 1944. Father Hopkins was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev. William J. Condon, Bishop of Great Falls, on June 3, 1944, at St. Ann Cathedral in Great Falls.

Father Hopkins began his priestly ministry at St. Patrick Church (now St. Patrick Co-Cathedral) in Billings as associate pastor in 1944, and went on to serve briefly as a priest at St. Mary Church in Columbus. In 1950, he was assigned as administrator of Holy Family Church in Great Falls, where he served until 1960. From 1960 to 1968 he served as chaplain and professor at the College of Great Falls (now University of Providence), as well as chaplain at St. Thomas Orphanage in Great Falls from 1964 to 1966. He served as the editor of the diocesan newspaper, Catholic Register, from 1962 to 1975, and was chaplain at Columbus Hospital in Great Falls from 1966-1970. He took over as pastor of Holy Family in 1975 and served there until 1977. He served as associate pastor in Billings at St. Patrick from 1977 to 1981. He also served as chaplain at Deaconess Hospital (now Clinic Hospital) in Billings from 1979 to 1981. He moved to St. Peter parish in Wibaux in 1981, and in February of 1982 he took a sabbatical leave for further studies, and returned to complete his service in Wibaux in 1985. In 1985, he resided in Miles City and served as chaplain at Holy Rosary Hospital and the V. A Hospital until 1989, at which time he retired from ministry, but continued to serve as needed. After retirement, he lived part of the time in San Diego, Calif., and part of the time in Miles City, Glendive and Billings. He held chancery positions of vice-chancellor and notary of the diocesan matrimonial tribunal.

Perhaps his most influential position was that of Spiritual Director of the Diocesan Cursillo Secretariat, beginning in 1968 until 1977. He touched and served many souls in the diocese through his dedicated service to this evangelizing movement as the Church entered the post-Vatican II era of renewal. He will be deeply missed by his brother priests, as well as the many people he reached through his generous pastoral service, in both the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and the Diocese of San Diego.

Father Hopkins is preceded in death by his parents and brothers. He is survived by many nieces and nephews and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Father Hopkins’ Vigil will be held at Our Mother of Confidence Church in San Diego on Tuesday, August 29 at 7:00 p.m., with a Funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. on August 30, 2017. Another Vigil will be held at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral in Billings on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 6 p.m., with a Mass of Christian Burial at 12 noon on Friday, Sept. 1, with a reception to follow. Committal will be held immediately after at Holy Cross Cemetery in Billings.

Clairemont Mortuary in San Diego is handling the arrangements in collaboration with

Dahl Funeral Chapel in Billings.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Vincent de Paul Society in Billings. Memories and condolences may be shared at

Added: 10 months ago