Blessings of seeds honors farmers, community

March 17, 2018 GMT

CLYMAN – There’s an old saying attributed to St. Ignatius that says “work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God.” For many area farmers, those are words to live by.

Those farmers and many other community members filled St. John the Baptist Catholic Parish in Clyman on a recent Thursday night to celebrate agriculture in Dodge County. Archbishop Jerome Listecki of the Milwaukee Archdiocese presided over a Mass and held a seed blessing to honor the agricultural past and pray for the future of the county’s farming community.

Three other rural parishes, including St. Katharine Drexel in Beaver Dam, St. Columbkille in Elba and Holy Family in Reeseville, joined together with St. John’s to host the inaugural event.

The Rev. Michael Erwin, who is the pastor of the four parishes, said the celebration of rural life is an old tradition which was typically held around St. Isadore the farmer’s feast day on May 15.

“Farmers plant earlier now and are busy already in April,” said Erwin. “I spoke with the archbishop about recognizing those who are growing our food and celebrating a Mass for them and he immediately said ‘yes.’ I think it’s vital for the younger generation of farmers to feel appreciated in society; to know there is dignity in their work.”

During his homily, Archbishop Listeki said, “Farming must hold a sense of importance in our communities — without it we lose something in our nation, we lose something in our families and we lose something in our faith.”

Seeds brought by those in attendance filled a table near the altar and were blessed toward the end of the Mass by the archbishop. He told the people that the blessing wasn’t just for the seeds, but for the entire farming operation.

To say that the health of community depends on the sprouting of seeds is not a stretch. The food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul in Beaver Dam has planted a garden for the past few years to help serve the nutritional needs of its clients. Pantry organizer Coletta Cody attended the Mass and brought along a basketful of vegetable seeds to be blessed.

“We will use these seeds to start our plants,” said Cody. “A bunch of volunteers and master gardeners help us throughout the growing season and we always pray for a bountiful harvest.”

Aside from the Mass, guests gathered in the church basement to play games, view a tractor display and enjoy fellowship. Century farms from the parishes were recognized and folks were treated to food samples that were created locally or made from locally grown products.

Kevin Roche, a member of the younger generation of farmers, works alongside his two brothers. “We have a cattle operation with 1300 steers here and we have a grain operation where we grow corn, soybeans and wheat, and also an ethanol plant. Tonight’s event is great for us when we can share what we do,” he said.

The archbishop visited with the crowd and said, “Farmers receive God’s choicest blessings when they break from their labors and enjoy a meal together.”