Pope Francis has named a priest of Helena, Father Jeffrey Fleming, coadjutor bishop of the state’s other diocese, Great Falls-Billings.

Fleming, 56, has been Chancellor and moderator of the Curia of western Montana’s Diocese of Helena since 2020. He has been a priest of the diocese for almost 30 years.

As coadjutor bishop, Fleming will serve alongside the current bishop of Great Falls-Billings, Michael Warfel, and will automatically succeed him upon his resignation.

Warfel, 73, has led the eastern Montana diocese since January 2008.

The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings covers over 93,000 square miles, the eastern two-thirds of Montana. It has 50 parishes and serves 31,813 Catholics. The total population of the diocese is 427,358.

Coadjutor bishop-elect Fleming was born in Billings in 1966. He studied religious education and theology at Carroll College in Helena and completed his priestly studies at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon, where he also received a master’s degree in theology.

He holds a license in canon law from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

In his nearly 30 years as a priest, Fleming has been parochial vicar and pastor at various parishes in the Diocese of Helena. He was also director of campus ministry at Carroll College.

In addition to his duties as chancellor of the diocese, since March, Fleming also serves as pastor of St. Mary Catholic Community in Helena, according to the Catholic news agency.