Father David Smith, SJ


Jesuit Father Smith was educator, retreat center director, pastor

Jesuit Father David Smith improved lives and brought beauty into the world – as an artist, educator, retreat center director and pastor, his religious community said.

Father Smith, whose ministry included service at Creighton University in Omaha, died July 9 in Harlan, Iowa. He was 67.

A visitation was held July 13 at John A. Gentleman Mortuary in Omaha. A funeral Mass was offered July 14 at St. Mary, Our Lady of Fatima Church in Portsmouth, Iowa, with burial the next day at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Omaha.

Father Smith was born in Oakland, Nebraska, and moved to Omaha with his family at a young age. He  graduated from St. Joan of Arc School in 1968 and Creighton Preparatory School in 1972.

After completing two years at Creighton University, he entered the Jesuits in 1974.

He earned a master’s of divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1985 and a master’s degree in secondary education administration from Creighton in 1993.

Father Smith spent most of his religious life at the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and at Creighton.

He taught art at Red Cloud from 1979 to 1982, while in Jesuit formation. After ordination and final vows in 1985, he became an assistant principal at the school from 1986 to 1991.

As an art teacher, he “threw himself generously and wholeheartedly into his assignment,” his community, the Midwest Province of the Jesuits, said in a written tribute. “He was creative, hardworking, and dedicated, always wanting to improve things and bring beauty to the environment in which he lived and ministered.”

Father Smith served as minister for the Jesuit community at Creighton from 1991 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2001 and was a professor of education at the university from 1999 to 2010.

He also was a director of the Creighton University Retreat Center in Griswold, Iowa, from 2001 to 2013.

Father Smith has been pastor of parishes in Panama, Portsmouth and Westphalia, Iowa, since 2014.

He was preceded in death by parents, Daryl and Darline Smith, and sisters-in-law, Lisa Smith and Mary Smith. He is survived by siblings and spouses, Liane and Tony Gulizia, Cindy and Jerry O’Hagan, Shari and Greg Folger, Bryan and Sandy Smith, Allan Smith, Lance and Shari Smith, Danny Smith, and Susie and Patrick VanDeventer, and numerous nieces and nephews.

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