Rural Life Celebration held on rainy Sunday

Bishop Donald Kettler presents his homily to the Rural Life Celebration gathering. In back, from left, Rev. Mark Willenbring, Rev. Edward Vebelun, Pastor David Grundman and Mass servers Jared Weller, Sarah Schmitz and Blaine Fischer (not pictured). The altar was decorated with stalks of grain, grape vines and bouquets of summer flowers.

By Roberta Olson, Correspondent

In a tent pitched between a cattle barn and a corn field, the 11th annual Diocesan Rural Life Celebration Mass was celebrated Sunday, Aug. 13, with Bishop Donald Kettler and St. John’s Abbott John Klassen concelebrating.

The scene was the Joe and Toni Borgerding Family Organic Dairy Farm, three miles south of Elrosa. Host pastor was Rev. David Grundman, of the parishes of St. Donatus, Brooten; St. Francis de Sales, Belgrade; and Sts. Peter and Paul, Elrosa. Also assisting were Rev. Mark Willenbring, and Rev. Edward Vebelun.

The heavy and continuous rains didn’t put a damper on the event, which went to Plan B —cancellation of the hay rides, moving the petting zoo into a barn, moving the parking to roadside, and ice cream served out of a garage.

Steve Pareja, executive director of Catholic Charities, said God was happy with the celebration.

“Look outside and see the tears of joy!” he said.

Six-year-old Olive Olson enjoyed an ear of sweet corn at the Rural Life Celebration, until she suddenly realized that biting into the corn had caused her to lose one of her two front teeth. She is the daughter of Randy and Jessica Olson of Brooten. Behind her volunteers served up the tasty meal.

Mass began with the sounding of the antique bell from Lake George Catholic Church, which was torn down in 1918. The bell has been in the Breitbach family, cared for by four generations from 1918 to the present.

The Bishop was escorted in by the BBE Knights of Columbus Honor Guard.

A smaller than expected gathering of about 400 people attended the event, held in a huge white tent, with seating on sweet-smelling straw bales. The rhythm of the beating rain muffled the sound of the guitar and keyboard accompaniment to the combined choir of the three host parishes.

Bishop Kettler’s homily was on the gospel of the day, Jesus walking on the water. He told the gathering, “Jesus is in the storm of life, he doesn’t cause the storms, but often uses them to come to himself.”

Eight members of the host Borgerding family brought up the gifts at the offering, including the bread and wine, along with a miniature tractor, flowers and grapes on the vine.
Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities, spoke about the work of the Rural Life Fund before a special collection was taken.

Abbott Klassen, who grew up on a nearby dairy farm, was the guest speaker. He urged those attending to safeguard the earth’s water, which is a non-renewable commodity; to keep the rural community health and alive; and to care for the Earth.

Following the Mass, Bishop Kettler passed out booklets about farming to the children.

Hot beef sandwiches and sweet corn on the cob, milk, ice cream and homemade cookies, were served by volunteers from the three parishes.

Afterward, children enjoyed activities in the barns and the Slew Foot Band entertained the crowd with music in the main tent.