Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Rural Life Celebration sponsored by the Diocese of St. Cloud, Catholic Charities and the Catholic Foundation. This year’s event took place at the Borgerding Family Organic Dairy Farm in Belgrade and was hosted by the parishes of St. Donatus in Brooten, St. Francis de Sales in Belgrade and Sts. Peter & Paul in Elrosa.
If you’re not familiar with the Rural Life Celebration, it is an annual event has been celebrated for about 15 years in a rural setting within our diocese. Its purpose is to recognize, celebrate and support rural families and communities as well as create awareness of challenges that impact rural life. The Mass also includes a special collection that is used for individuals who may be experiencing a financial hardship. In the past, the Rural Life Fund has provided money to those in need in a variety of ways such as a family who needed a water heater replaced, a family whose trailer home was destroyed by fire, and an elderly woman who needed her broken hearing aids replaced. Typically, support might be a bit easier to find in more populated areas but rural communities often struggle to find support when it is needed. The Rural Life Fund was created to support those needs.
Not even a rainy Sunday morning could dampen the spirits of the 475-500 people who gathered for the celebration. The day started with Mass presided by Bishop Donald Kettler under a protective tent as attendees sat on hay bales. Abbott John Klassen, OSB, from St. John’s Abbey offered an uplifting, humorous and realistic presentation on Caring for God’s Creation: Sharing in the Stewardship of God’s Country. Abbot John is certainly qualified to speak on this topic because he grew up on the Klassen Family Farm which is very near the Borgerding’s farm in Belgrade.
After Mass, everyone was treated to a delicious lunch, desserts, farm tours, a petting zoo and live entertainment. Perhaps the best part of the day was seeing everyone enjoying each other’s company and the sense of community that was present in the gathering. I overheard a story of how a nearby farmer’s barn burned down the previous week and how many people in the surrounding area had pitched in to help with his livestock and clean up. That is an inspiring story of how a community works together. The day’s events made me recall growing up in central Indiana. Although my neighborhood was surrounded by farms, I wasn’t a farm kid. I was a ‘town kid.’ But I do know what it’s like to be in a rural community with its blessings and its challenges. I was pleased that I had the opportunity to participate in last Sunday’s events and I look forward to attending next year’s Rural Life celebration.
If you would like to attend next year’s event, I would suggest keeping an eye on The Visitor next summer as plans are put into place. This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire diocese to celebrate together.
Blessings, Deacon Steve
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October 24, 2020
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