Submitted By: Sr. Deana Case and Jeff Foley
The Catholic history of Native American missions in Nebraska is intriguing. St. Augustine Indian Mission, located in Winnebago, Nebraska, was founded in 1909 by St. Katharine Drexel and is the only Catholic institution in the state directly founded by a canonized saint. The first Native American to become principal of the 108-year-old St. Augustine Indian Mission school was Don Blackbird, Jr. Deacon Don is only the second Omaha Nation Native American ordained a Deacon to serve the St. Augustine Indian Mission. He is a lifelong member of the Omaha Nation, located in Northeastern Nebraska. A graduate from the St. Augustine Indian Mission elementary school, he also graduated with highest distinction from University of Nebraska Lincoln, and completed his Master’s in Education from Creighton University. Deacon Don has the unique distinction of being the first Native American principal of the St. Augustine Indian Mission Elementary School for the past 10 years. He was recognized as “Omaha Archdiocese Outstanding Administrator in a rural area” for 2016. As Fr. Mark Beran, Director and Pastor of the St. Augustine Indian Mission put it,
“having been a part of our parishes almost his whole life and being a member of the Omaha Tribe, Deacon Don Blackbird’s ordination is a big blessing. On the Indian reservations, Christianity still can be seen as a religion for non-Native people. Deacon Don is a reminder that Jesus and His Church are for the Native American people too. Jesus longs to show His mercy and love to all people. He has the true heart of a Deacon because he is a true servant.”
St. Augustine Indian Mission is proud of the servant leadership provided by Deacon Blackbird.
“A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.”- Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)
Please see the link to a video from Deacon Don Blackbirds ordination below. The video was created by Fr. Doll, S.J. (Don’s Ordination):