| ||Bishop Robert C. Morlino blesses various pieces of farm equipment after the Rural Life Mass, sponsored by the diocesan Office of Rural Life, at St. Lawrence Church in Jefferson on October 7. (Catholic Herald photo by Kat Wagner) More photos . . .|
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JEFFERSON -- The picturesque church of St. Lawrence Parish, which stands on a hill surrounded by golden fields ready to be harvested on the outskirts of the city here, recently hosted a diocesan Rural Life Mass with Bishop Robert C. Morlino to honor the farmers and the rural community and pray for the harvest after a troubled growing season.
The second Rural Life Mass in the diocese this year, held October 7, was hosted by the diocesan Rural Life Office and drew families, farmers, and students from nearby St. John the Baptist School, Jefferson. After the Mass, Bishop Morlino blessed farm machinery that had been brought to the church.
The Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Tom Coyle, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish; Msgr. Daniel T. Ganshert, vicar general; Msgr. James L. Gunn, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee; Msgr. Duane R. Moellenberndt, pastor of Sacred Hearts Parish, Sun Prairie; Fr. Jay Poster, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Fort Atkinson and Palmyra; Fr. Monte Robinson, pastor of St. Philomena Parish, Belmont, Immaculate Conception Parish, Truman, and St. Michael Parish, Calamine; Fr. Brian Wilk, pastor of St. Henry Parish, Watertown; and Fr. Bernie Rott, pastor of Holy Ghost Parish, Dickeyville and Immaculate Conception Parish, Kieler and director of Rural Life Ministry.
Many of the priests who were present represent small but vital farming communities from around the Diocese of Madison, a largely rural diocese. With nine and a half of the 11 counties in the diocese considered rural based on population and agricultural economic figures, well over two thirds of the parishes in those counties as well as those with larger metropolitan areas draw primarily from small towns and the farming community.
Bishop Morlino said in his homily that those who work the land have special challenges, but also have been given the special gift of awareness of the change of the seasons and the ability to take time seriously.
“Jesus Christ rose from the dead to make time sacred,” the bishop said. “So many Americans have no time for anything. All they notice is their laptop or their Blackberry.
“Time is life; time is God’s greatest gift,” he said. “In a sense, when we say we have no time, what we’re saying is ‘I have no life.’”
But farmers, the bishop said, have to be aware of the seasons and the passage of time.
“The greatest gift God gives you is you have to take time seriously,” he said. “Your gift is you can’t play around with time. You can’t say, ‘it’s Christmas, let’s pretend it’s time to plant.’”
Being aware of time helps you to notice God’s creation, both when it is seasonable and when it is rough, he said. God loves us even when the weather is harsh.
“As you go through the cycles of the year and deal with the weather, you are caring for the earth, you are providing nourishment to your brothers and sisters,” the bishop said. “Don’t ever doubt for a minute that you are a great gift from God to the church and to the world.”