‘Horizons of hope’

Categories: Around the Diocese

Small towns earn bishop’s praise at Rural Life Celebration

August 30, 2013, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

In the small town of Onamia, families, couples and individuals held tight to their programs and hats as they gathered under large tents near the Depot Library for an outdoor Mass Aug. 18.


With a basket of home-baked goods before the altar, Bishop John Kinney, center, presides at the Mass for the Rural Life Celebration Aug. 18 in Onamia. Also pictured are Brother Xavier Schermerhorn, Crosier Father Jerry Schik and Crosier Father Greg Poser. Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

“We can tell the Holy Spirit is with us today,” said Bishop John Kinney as he began the Mass, starting the Rural Life Celebration. “We can tell by the wind.”

Attended by about 350 people, the Rural Life Celebration brought together civic leaders, local farmers and community members, Crosier priests and brothers and guests from around the St. Cloud Diocese and beyond in commemoration of the blessings of rural life.

The annual event, which was sponsored by the St. Cloud Diocese, Catholic Charities and The Catholic Foundation, is held at a different location each year. It is usually celebrated on a farm, but was held in Onamia this year to highlight the value of small towns. It was hosted by the parishes of Hillman, Onamia, Wahkon and Vineland.

“We wanted to recognize that part of rural life is small-town living,” said Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the St. Cloud Diocese.

“Small towns really tend to be the backbone of rural living and help to keep it going. We wanted to showcase a small town that is working really hard to thrive and to recognize the dignity of creation and the dignity of each other.”

Worshippers are witnesses

Bishop Kinney said it is important for everyone to continue to nurture the relationship between country and city people.

He said he is especially pleased to see young families coming to the event with their children to give  witness to the value of living on a farm and in a small town.

“Rural communities, our small towns, our farms, are horizons of hope for all of us,” he said.

At the end of Mass, Crosier Father Kermit Holl, prior of the Holy Cross Priory in Onamia, gave a short speech on the history of the area and caring for God’s creation.

“It does my spirit good as I see God writing large across the horizon,” he said. “The very expanse that we know, away from the confining border of a city, reminds us of the greatness of God and the sweep of God’s presence in history and place.”

A complementary lunch of chicken and wild rice croissant sandwiches, fresh vegetable salad, watermelon, chips, cookies and ice cream followed Mass as well as a farmer’s market and musical entertainment by Bethany Lutheran Church of Onamia and Sue and Tom Dominik.

“It’s an important occasion; rural life is important,” said Jim Kroll, a member Sacred Heart Parish in Wahkon.

“Rural life keeps the families closer together,” added his wife, Pat. “They have to work together. The family that works together stays together.”

Attendees from Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Sauk Centre, George and Delores Peters, said that children learn the basics of work and faith on a farm.

“You depend on God so much for your crops and the success of your animals,” Delores Peters said.