Award-winning documentary producer, Sister Judith Zielinski (OSF), is the featured convocation speaker at University of Mary’s Butler Auditorium, Friday, Oct. 8, 10 a.m.


Black Elk Painting

BISMARCK, ND — The public is invited to attend two free events detailing the life of Lakota healer Black Elk. On Wednesday, October 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the Russell Reid Auditorium at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, the public can watch Sister Judith Zielinski’s (OSF) one-hour film “Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk’s Journey to Sainthood.” Zielinski, the documentary’s producer, will be part of a panel discussion following the showing of the film along with Black Elks great-great grandson Maka Black Elk, United Tribes Technical College Professor Dakota Goodhouse, and moderated by North Dakota Heritage Center Curator of Education Erik Holland.

“Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk’s Journey to Sainthood,” tells the story of Lakota Holy Man Nicholas Black Elk on his journey to canonization as the first U.S. Native American male saint. Born into pre-reservation America in 1863, Nicholas Black Elk was at the Battle of Little Bighorn, toured Europe as a dancer with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, lived through the Battle of Wounded Knee, served his people as a medicine man, and was the subject of John Neihardt’s classic 1932 book “Black Elk Speaks.”

Friday, October 8, at 10 a.m. in the Gary Tharaldson School of Business’s Butler Auditorium on University of Mary’s campus, the public is welcome to attend a 50-minute convocation presentation by Zielinski. She’ll address all the details behind the making of her documentary film.

Dr. Mike Taylor
Associate Professor of Education at the University of Mary

“These two events are a critical platform for discussing the life and impact of Lakota healer and Catholic catechist Black Elk,” said Dr. Mike Taylor, associate professor of education at the University of Mary, and the organizer for both events. “Currently, the Catholic Church has designated Black Elk as a Servant of God on the way to being a full-fledged saint once at least 2 miracles are attributed to him. We hope that by spreading the news of Black Elk and the cause for his sainthood people will be inspired to not only alert the Church to miracles attributed to Black Elk, but also spread his faith in the Creator to others during these times of trial and tribulation. As a healer, Black Elk’s modeled life can point us all toward healing among cultures.”

Director of Faith and Values Programming at NewGroup Media in South Bend IN., and a member of the Order of Saint Francis (OSF), Zielinski earned an MA in Communication Arts at the University of Notre Dame and now writes and produces a variety of both broadcast and not-for broadcast programs. She consults with and produces media for religious communities of men and women; various dioceses; and Catholic health care, educational and social-service organizations across the country. In addition, Zielinski has written and produced broadcast documentaries both domestically and internationally, including two public television broadcasts set in the Holy Land– Mary of Nazareth: From Icon to Woman and The 5th Gospel: The Land and Sea of Galilee—as well as NBC-distributed documentaries Come to the Water: The Adult Journey to Baptism; and Jesus Decoded. For ABC stations, her filmography includes Interrupted Lives: Catholic Sisters Under European Communism; We Shall Not Be Moved: The Catholic Sisters of New Orleans; and Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk’s Journey to Sainthood. Zielinski has also collaborated on productions in the Philippines and Peru and executive-produced a multi-episode teen drama series in Los Angeles. Her work has been honored with several Gabriel Awards (the “Catholic Emmy,”) a SIGNIS international Catholic Drama Award and numerous Telly Awards. Currently and a member of the Order of Saint Francis, is involved in production for a documentary film on the life of African American Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman. Going Home Like a Shooting Star (working title) is projected for broadcast on ABC stations nationwide in 2022.

About the University of Mary 

True to its motto “lumen vitae”—The Light of Life—the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs and graduate programs animated by moral courage and leadership in chosen professions and service to the community. A private, co-educational Catholic institution, the University of Mary welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly 60 bachelor’s, 15 master’s, and five doctoral programs—in Business Administration, Education, Nursing Practice, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. The 19-sport Athletic Department adheres to its Greatness Through Virtue mission under the governance of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) conferences. With more than 3,800 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Arizona, Rome, Italy, as well as vibrant online offerings.