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Longtime St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church priest Father Edward E. Courtney, 80, died Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, in Butte.


He was born Aug. 23, 1929, in Butte, the son of Edward F. and Mary Elizabeth (Havey) Courtney.


Father Courtney was raised in Butte where he grew up in the Catholic faith at Immaculate Conception Church.


When he was a child, he used to talk his grandmother into letting him stay up late by asking to listen to the Catholic Hour on the radio. This is where he found his lifelong motto, "Listen for the presence of God," which he lived until his last day.


His family sent him to school at "I.C.", then to Boys' Central High School with the legendary Christian Brothers of Ireland. He went to Carroll College, then to St. Edward Seminary in Seattle. He was ordained on May 28, 1955, and offered his first Mass the next day at his home parish.


Father Courtney started his priestly ministry at the cathedral, working half the day at the chancery office. Next, he served at St. Matthew's in Kalispell, St. Peter's in Anaconda and in 1963 was the first priest assigned full time to the campus ministry at Montana State University in Bozeman.


Next, he went to the University of Montana at Christ the King Parish in Missoula. In 1974, he began his out-of-state adventures by moving to Guest House in Lake Orion, Mich., to work in their recovery program. Next, he participated in Bishop Hunthausen's "Priestly Ministry Program." He served two years in the Detroit Archdiocese, a year with the Paracletes in St. Louis, Mo., and two years in the Great Falls Diocese as a counselor in Providence Center.


Father Courtney returned to Butte in 1979 as a therapist at the Butte Care Unit. In 1983, he became the priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish, from where he continued his ministry of "Listen to the Presence of God." Father Courtney retired from St. John's Church in June 2007, shortly after celebrating his golden jubilee in 2005.


For all those who knew Father Courtney, also knew that he was a gourmet chef, and prided himself in not only the food he served but also the great care and joy he took in the presentation of the meal.


He also had a deep passion for the liturgy, and the way it was presented. Father Courtney was also a history buff, and enjoyed collecting and sharing early artifacts of the church. He also had a deep respect for his parents, Edward and Elizabeth, and helped care for Elizabeth until her passing in 2001. He was an honorary member of the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree.


He was preceded in death by his parents.


Surviving relatives include brothers and sisters-in-law, John H. and Agnes Courtney of San Mateo, Calif., James R. and Ann Courtney and Michael Courtney, all of Butte; nieces and nephews, John and Valerie Courtney, Marcus Courtney, Cindy Petsche and Ginger Courtney; and cousins, Mary Ann Comstock, Dorothy Scheid and Margaret Scheid.


Friends and fellow parishioners may call from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in St. John the Evangelist Church for visitations. Parish vigil services will be conducted at 7 p.m. Liturgy of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday in St. John the Evangelist Church with Bishop George Leo Thomas officiating. Interment will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery.