Mass, listening sessions for farming community Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kat Wagner, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 -- 12:00 AM


Bishop Morlino blessing implements


Bishop Robert C. Morlino blesses some farm equipment brought by a farmer from Cuba City following the Rural Life Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Truman October 20. The bishop blessed two ponies, five tractors, and other farm equipment — including a “drive-by” blessing of a manure treatment system — outside the church. (Catholic Herald photo

TRUMAN — People filled the pews at Immaculate Conception Church for the third annual Rural Life Mass held by the Diocese of Madison. Many also brought their farm equipment and a few animals to be blessed by Bishop Robert C. Morlino afterwards.

The Mass drew young and old from around Truman and the Diocese of Madison. Thirteen priests from throughout the diocese concelebrated the Mass on October 20.

After the Mass and blessing, the majority of the congregation gathered downstairs in the specially decorated social hall for a reception held by the Altar Society at Immaculate Conception Parish.

The parish had been cleaning and getting ready and planning since they heard about Truman hosting the event, said Irma Kliebenstein. “We wanted it to be festive, but family oriented.”


“This is what Truman is about — all the generations,” she said, speaking loudly to be heard over the laughter and conversation in the church basement hall. Her family, for instance, recently had a sixth-generation baptism at the parish. “We wanted to show everybody that we have the camaraderie, and the family, and the close-knit community. And we can express that and pass it on to anyone who visits.”


Focusing on the rural community

Truman is a symbol of rural life — even though they have a small number of farmers, said Fr. Monte Robinson, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Truman, which is linked with the parishes of St. Philomena in Belmont and St. Michael in Calamine. The church, which stands surrounded by a few houses and farms at a Lafayette County highway crossroads, symbolizes the center of the Truman community.

“This is a small Christian community,” Father Robinson said. “There’s a vibrancy to this parish. Maybe we don’t have a youth board, or a seniors’ board, but people take care of each other here.”

The Mass and its associated celebration came close to the end of a series of listening sessions held by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Madison to gain a greater understanding of the scope of issues facing the rural community today. Tom Nelson, Catholic Charities’ rural life coordinator, said that while attendance fluctuated from very few to, for example, 40 people at Truman, the sessions were a good opportunity to learn about the issues affecting people of the diocese and show the Church’s concern.

Hearing rural life concerns

“I know sometimes you think that all we really care about is Madison, and we don’t think about Truman too much — but that’s not true,” Bishop Morlino said during his homily at the Rural Life Mass. “You know how they say it — the squeaking wheel gets the attention. Well, Madison squeaks. You have your hard times and challenges, but you stick with it — you don’t squeak.”

In the first reading and in the Gospel at the Rural Life Mass, God compared himself to the farmer who sows seed. “Why? Because the farmer has patience to undergo hardship,” the bishop said. “In recent years, there’s been more than enough hardship to go around. . . . I know that, and I care about it deeply, and so do my brother priests.”

The rural community and farmers have been hit hard recently by weather — heavy flooding in the summer of 2008 and damaging hail and wind storms in July this year — as well as falling food prices. But the diocese is listening.

The Diocese of Madison is not all about Madison, the bishop reminded those gathered. “Sometimes, when Madison is squeaking at me . . . the Lord strengthens me by reminding me of all you who don’t squeak.”

The final Catholic Charities Rural Life listening session will be held in Iowa County hosted by Fr. Ken Frisch at SS. Anthony and Philip Parish, Highland, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.


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