Father Daniel Francis Ohmann was born July 6, 1927, in Greenwald, Minnesota, in the Diocese of St. Cloud, the son of John and Elizabeth Feneis Ohmann. He is one of eight children; his sister, Elizabeth, is a Franciscan nun. He attended District 51 grammar school in Greenwald, at that time taught by Benedictine nuns, and Melrose Public High School before entering the army in 1945. Following his discharge, Father Ohmann studied math and music for three years at St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, before entering Maryknoll in 1949.
After his ordination on June 11, 1955, Father Ohmann was assigned to do promotional and fund-raising work in the United States, serving as director of the Minneapolis Development House from 1958 to 1964. In 1964 he was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region of Tanzania where he was named Pastor of the Ndoleleji Catholic Church, a parish about the size of Stearns County, Minnesota, containing 27 villages of roughly 350 families each. Father Ohmann also trained Church leaders for these villages and was active in developing hospitals, clinics and agricultural projects. Two Ndoleleji boys have been ordained priests for the Shinyanga Diocese. A highlight of his years at Ndoleleji was when two brothers, Jackie and Ruby, and a cousin, Paul Wenner, from Cold Spring, Minnesota, came to erect windmills for the village drinking-water supply.
When asked what he would consider the high point of his mission career, he answered, “No question that it was the three years in the Rukole Refugee Camp with Rwandese and Burundian Refugees. There you met first hand how good people can be, and, how cruel people can be to one another, and experience difficulties of people which only Faith and Sacraments can help. If all could experience some of the joys and peace our priesthood gave to me and the refugees, our seminaries and convents would be filled.”
Since 1997 Father Ohmann has been working with the Watatulu tribe in the Diocese of Shinyanga. Living in a tent and speaking to any who will listen, Fr. Ohmann is planting the first seeds of the gospel in this remote bush country.