EDITOR’S NOTE:This story originally ran on Nov. 14, 2015. The Rev. Buddy Monahan was killed Tuesday in a car accident. Church officials say a memorial service will be scheduled soon. Monahan was interim pastor when this story ran but became the full time pastor in January 2017.
Descended from the Choctaw and Maricopa tribes, the Rev. Buddy Monahan has spent most of his career working in the context of his Native American heritage, but now in Odessa, he is broadening his ministry.
The interim pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church at 4901 Maple Ave., says he works “knowing that everyone is a child of God and is seen equally in the eyes of God.
“When you dwell on something, you lose the opportunity to show someone some peace and joy in life,” said Monahan, 49. “My ministry is not about me. It’s about how we all work together. I may be the pastor, but we’re all ministers.”
Monahan grew up at Eagletown in the southeastern corner of Oklahoma, which was a Choctaw settlement when the tribe was forcibly relocated from Mississippi in the early 1830s, according to choctawnation.com. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of the Ozarks at Clarksville, Ark., and a master’s of divinity at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa.
He spent six years as pastor and project coordinator of the Native American Ministry Project in Los Angeles and 18 years as chaplain, religion teacher and assistant football, basketball and track coach at the Native American- oriented Menaul School in Albuquerque, N.M. Monahan and his wife Dyanna have two sons and a daughter.
Citing Ephesians 4:12 and First Corinthians 12, he said building the church and appreciating that all members are important are two of his favorite topics in Westminster Presbyterian’s 11 a.m. Sunday services, which are averaging 70 people.
Monahan once had long hair and a pony tail, but he shaved his head to spur fundraising for community services at the Menaul School and decided he liked it better that way, he said.
Asked if he has ever come into conflict with Animism, which many Native Americans espouse, he said, “I respect the different faiths of all peoples.
“Native Americans have a strong sense of spirituality that is more conservative than anybody could think.” He said various tribes have different words for God, ranging from “Grandfather” and “Spirit” to the Choctaws’ “Chihowa,” and that most believe in an afterlife.
“Nobody brought God to the Native Americans,” Monahan said. “They may have brought the impact of Christ, but God was here.”
Animism is “the belief that all plants, animals and objects have spirits,” according to Merriam-Webster.com.
Tres Rios Presbytery General Missioner Jose Luis Casal of Midland said Monahan “brings something to our area that has not been here before.
“Native Americans are sometimes quiet and reserved, but not Buddy,” Casal said. “He is the first Native American serving in our boundaries, and he has the capacity and skills to work with our youth.”