Presenter Information

John E. Rybolt C.M., Ph.D.


The founders of the American Vincentians, Felix De Andreis and Joseph Rosati, considered the conversion of the Native Americans one of the main purposes of the American mission, although this was not an official objective. Efforts to this end were relatively few due to a lack of personnel and resources, and the more urgent need to serve American Catholics. In 1824, while ministering to Catholics in the Arkansas Territory, John Mary Odin and John Timon said mass among the Kappas-on-Arkansas (Quapaw). In 1837, other Vincentians went to the Osages in what is now Oklahoma. These two ventures were considered major missionary journeys. In the intervening period, the Vincentians had increased contact with the Shawnees, Delawares, and Peorias living near the Barrens. Missions were planned but not accomplished. Odin later worked among the Karankanwa and Comanches in Texas, establishing schools for them. This article gives extensive references from first-hand encounters with the Native Americans and summaries of their beliefs as understood by the Vincentians of the time.