LEFT: Father Kohler, beloved pastor of Little Flower Parish and community leader, was honored for his service to the people of the Blackfeet Nation.
RIGHT: Chief Earl Old Person (right) performing a Blackfeet warrior song in celebration of Father Kohler. Said the chief, “Father Ed is a tree rooted in the community.”
"Awakened Faith Transforms a Town"
Browning, Montana, the capital of the Blackfeet Nation, is surrounded by Glacier National Park. But the natural beauty that frames this town is a contrast to the challenges its people face. They have long struggled with chronic poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and substance abuse. But Little Flower Parish, under the leadership of Father Kohler, made great strides in breaking that cycle. The Cursillo Movement, which he initiated there, brought adult Catholics together to strengthen their faith, helping many face their addiction problems. In 2010, more than 90 percent of parishioners had participated in this program. In addition, “Father Ed,” as he was called, helped found a parish school, which was instrumental in changing the trajectory of young lives and inspiring hope.
In 2010, 93 percent of the school’s alumni had gone on to graduate from high school, a vast improvement over the 56 percent high school graduation rate among Native Americans in Montana. Several graduates of the school also went on to college. This stood out as an inspiration to the rest of the community and provided a ripple effect that led others to imagine a better future for themselves, too. Said Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Nation, “Father Ed is a tree rooted in the community. His fruit feeds us.”