Reverend Raymond J. Nyquist, 90, passed away peacefully on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, at a Great Falls hospital.
Visitation will be 4-7 p.m., on Monday, March 6, at O’Connor Memorial Chapel; followed by a vigil service at 7 p.m. Funeral Liturgy will be at 11 a.m., Tuesday, March 7, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Interment will be at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Arrangements are in the care of O’Connor Funeral Home.
Fr. Ray, born on Sept. 6, 1926, in Great Falls, was the oldest of three children born to Hedwig (Hattie) Marie (Raunig) and Raymond Gordon Nyquist. He and his siblings grew up on the family farm. Ray graduated from Simms High School and then joined the Navy. After serving for two years, from 1944-1946, he entered St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington. He was ordained a priest of the Catholic Church at St. Ann’s Cathedral in Great Falls, on May 15, 1954. Then began his 62+ years of priestly ministry.
Fr. Ray served at St. Leo’s Parish in Lewistown as an assistant from June 1954 to Sept. 1958. He was the pastor of St. Victor Parish in Hilger from Sept. 1958 to Sept. 1959. He then moved to St. Margaret Mary Parish in Big Sandy and served there until June, 1967. From June 1967 until Sept. 1973, he was the pastor of Holy Family Parish in Glentana. He studied at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California from Sept. 1973 to Feb. 1974, after which he was assigned as pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Geraldine.
In July, 1983, he left there to become pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Culbertson and St. Patrick Parish in Medicine Lake until Feb. 1985. After a five month sabbatical leave, he was the pastor of St. Mathias in Moore from July 1985 to July 1988. His next assignment was to pastor St. Rose of Lima Parish in Stanford while still serving in Moore. He remained in those positions until becoming the pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Black Eagle in July, 1993. He remained there, even after attaining retirement status in 2000 until July 2009.
Then, at the age of 82, he moved to Billings, where he helped out in area parishes as needed, including serving for over a year as the temporary pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Roundup and its missions. In 2013, he moved back to Great Falls to live in residence at Corpus Christi Parish and to enjoy retirement while hearing confessions and concelebrating Mass in that parish community.
Fr. Ray’s faith life was centered on his love of Jesus in the Eucharist and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He greatly expanded Eucharistic Adoration in Great Falls. He founded Great Falls Catholics for Life and was the chaplain for 40 Days for Life locally. He was an avid supporter of the Marian Movement of Priests, the Legion of Mary and the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. He invited the Neocatechumenal Way into the Great Falls-Billings Diocese.
He was active in ministering to prisoners at the County Adult Detention Center and the elderly in a local nursing home/assisted living facility. He always did what he could to help those in need and advocated for them with local agencies on many occasions. He was firm in his belief that, if one helps another in need, he is helping Christ Himself.
Fr. Ray loved his family dearly. He kept in close touch with his parents, his sister and brother and their families. His father, “Papa Ray,” lived with him for many of the last years of his life. He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed telling corny jokes. Gardening was one of his favorite pastimes. He was a simple, humble, caring man of God who strove to practice what he preached. He would often say, “If you learn to laugh at yourself, you’ll be laughing all day.”
Fr. Ray is survived by his sister, Helene (John) Houghton; nephews Dawson Nyquist, Terry (Teresa) Houghton, Chris Houghton, Mark (Jennifer) Houghton, and Kevin (Jenny) Houghton; nieces Charlotte (Rodrigo) Spiegel, Fran Nyquist, Roselyn Granger, Patrice (Frank) Patrinostro, Alyssa Nyquist, Margaret (Nick) O’Connor and Stephanie (John) Hudson; and thirty great-nephews and great-nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Charles, and two nephews.
You can honor Fr. Ray with a memorial donation to Echoz Pregnancy Care Center (1323 9th Ave. S, Great Falls 59405, http://www.echoz.org/donate); GF Catholics for Life (410 22nd Ave. NE, Great Falls, 59404, corpuschristigreatfalls.blogspot.com and find Catholics for Life by clicking on Online Giving); or Priests for Life (PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314, http://www.priestsforlife.org/donate/index.aspx#appeal).