Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church


Fr. Damian Schmelz named Sagamore of the Wabash

November 09, 2015

News _pic _Fr _Damian _Sagamore _AwardFr. Damian Schmelz, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, IN, and retired pastor of St. Henry Catholic Church in St. Henry, IN, was named a Sagamore of the Wabash at a ceremony on November 5, 2015, at the monastery.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Governor of Indiana. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor.

Fr. Damian served for 33 years on the Indiana Natural Resources Commission and was co-author of Natural Areas of Indiana, published in 1969. The work served as a guide for the creation of Indiana's Natural Preserves.

In 2007, Fr. Damian was awarded a Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award by the Indiana Wildlife Federation. Two years later, he was a member of the inaugural class named to the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame.

Fr. Damian is also known for his research in Indiana old-growth forests. As chairman of a blue-ribbon committee assigned to study controlled deer hunts in Brown County State Park, Fr. Damian and other state wildlife experts determined that the hunts would thin deer herds and prevent destruction to the flora of the state park.

An addition to the Donaldson's Woods Nature Preserve was dedicated in Fr. Damian's honor in 2000. He also was active in the Indiana Academy of Science, being named a fellow in 1973 and receiving the Outstanding Service Award in 2003.

He attended Saint Meinrad College, earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He earned a baccalaureate in sacred theology in 1959 from Saint Meinrad School of Theology and The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1958. He did graduate studies at PurdueUniversity, earning a master's in plant ecology in 1964 and a PhD in that field in 1969.

Fr. Damian taught biology at Saint Meinrad High School and College for nearly 40 years. He also served as academic dean and, later, as provost and vice rector of Saint Meinrad College. He has served on the school's Board of Trustees. He served as pastor of St. Henry Parish from 2001 until August 2015.

Photo: Fr. Damian Schmelz, OSB, seated, is congratulated upon receiving the Sagamore of the Wabash award by Francis Lueken and John Goss (partially hidden).