Fr. Damian Schmelz, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, and retired pastor of St. Henry Catholic Church in St. Henry, was named a Sagamore of the Wabash at a ceremony held last Thursday at the monastery.
The Sagamore 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, he 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.
He attended Saint Meinrad College, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He earned a degree 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.
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.