Bishop Donald Montrose

Bishop Donald Montrose

Bishop Donald Montrose, one of the great spiritual fathers of the Marian Movement of Priests in the United States, died on May 7, 2008 at the age of 84. He had been in failing health, and was in Hospice care during his last days.

He was installed as the fourth bishop of Stockton in February 1986, and served until his retirement on Jan. 18, 1999. According to the Modesto Bee, he perhaps was best known for bringing Spanish-speaking priests to the diocese and also bringing the cloistered order, Sisters of the Cross, to Modesto.

His funeral was on May 12 at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton, followed by burial at San Joaquin Catholic Cemetery. A close personal friend of the bishop who attended the funeral shared the following with us:

“For three days, the Church sent a beloved Shepherd to eternity amidst prayer, song, joy and the celebration of the Resurrection. He died on May 7, fifty-nine years to the day of his priestly ordination. His public viewing took place on Pentecost, a Feast Day which was special because of his devotion to the Holy Spirit. He was buried on May 12, the anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination as Bishop of the Church. On May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, he would have been 85. All the important events of his life took place in the month of May, the month dedicated to Our Lady. He was so dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The local newspapers carried his funeral as front page headlines for two consecutive days calling him a Bishop of the People. A mariachi group showed up at the grave site to sing all of the Bishop’s favorite songs. The burial rites were completed, the body was lowered into the ground, the flowers were tossed into the grave, and no one left. No one wanted to move, they simply stood quietly reflecting the loss of someone they loved.

There are many, many stories which are hidden in the hearts of people who knew him, what he did for them, what he gave them and how he led them to Christ. The priests he ordained are openly devoted to the Eucharist, Our Lady and the Rosary; evidence of a Spiritual Father’s guidance. Cardinal Mahoney commented that he never knew another person, priest or lay, who knew more religious. Walking the streets of Mexico with the Bishop, the Cardinal said that if they came to a convent that the Bishop was not familiar with, he would knock on the door and ask if they needed a Confessor (…)”

In 1975, while still a Monsignor, Bishop Montrose became the very first priest to enroll as a member of the Marian Movement of Priests in the United States. He had submitted his name to Fr. Philippe Roy in Canada, who was then serving as National Director for both the United States and Canada. When I assumed the Directorship in 1975, I was given his name and soon contacted him. From that point on, we developed a lasting friendship.

Following Maine’s Bishop O’Leary and Dubuque’s Archbishop Byrne, now both deceased, Bishop Montrose was the third to grant his Imprimatur to the book, “To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.” Fr. Gobbi received his last public message on December 31, 1997; therefore, nothing new was introduced to the book after that date. Bishop Montrose’s imprimatur remains to this day.

He was a strong supporter of Our Lady’s work, and we will be forever grateful for all he did to help the Marian Movement of Priests in the United States grow and flourish. May Our Lady receive him in her loving embrace.

“His devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe guided his choice of motto on his coat of arms in Spanish: ‘Esclavo Soy’, which recalls Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord.’ It is appropriate that so many of the important dates in his life occurred in the month of May, which is dedicated to Mary.”
(Bishop Steven Blaire)

May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.

May the choirs of angels welcome you and lead you the the bosom of abraham; and where Lazarus is poor no longer, may you have eternal rest.