Rural Life Celebration set for Milaca farm Aug. 17

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Plans for this year’s Rural Life Celebration at the Mark and Brenda Winkelman farm near Milaca are under way and all are invited to attend.

“Come out and celebrate with us,” said Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, which helps to organize the gathering. “It’s an event where we can eat together, pray together and enjoy God’s creation together on a family farm.”


Brenda, Mark, Denise and Lucas Winkelman look forward to hosting this year’s Rural Life Celebration Aug. 17 at their farm near Milaca. Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully/The Visitor

The Aug. 17 celebration begins with an 11 a.m. Mass with Bishop Donald Kettler on the front lawn of the farm. Rows of hay bales will substitute as pews.

At the end of Mass, Ellyn Holliday-Kaufmann of the Central Minnesota Sustainability Project will give a short talk. A meal will follow with a tentative menu of ground steak, chicken, potato salad, beans, ice cream, bars and beverages.

A blue grass band will provide musical entertainment. The event is expected to conclude around 2 p.m.

The day is “a way to recognize the great contributions rural communities make to all of us,” Langer said. “Also, each Rural Life Celebration is a celebration of God’s creation. Creation is a gift that we need to be good stewards of.”

Honor to host

This year the event will recognize the International Year of Family Farming launched by United Nations to highlight the potential family farmers have to eradicate hunger, preserve natural resources and promote sustainable development. The Rural Life Celebration is held at a different farm or small town each year.

The Winkelmans, members of Christ Our Light parish in Princeton and Zimmerman, are looking forward to it coming to their farm this year.

“It’s an honor and a surprise,” Brenda said. “And with all the help we have, there’s not a lot we have to do.”

Christ Our Light, this year’s host parish, began planning in January. Volunteers set up committees for the liturgy, meal, environment, entertainment and fundraising.

Catholic Charities is assisting with the planning and publicity. The Rural Life Celebration is also sponsored by the Diocese of St. Cloud and The Catholic Foundation.

Lifelong farmers

Mark and Brenda Winkelman milk 50 cows. They own 200 acres and rent 100 acres on which they grow corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa.

Mark grew up on the farm and Brenda was raised on a hog farm near Princeton.

Mark’s mother, Teresa, still helps with chores and drives a tractor. “I like that I’m supplying food for people,” Mark said. “I’ve always enjoyed farming — the variety, repairs, milking, being my own boss.”

A typical day for Mark begins with getting up at 5 a.m., feeding the livestock and milking, followed by breakfast, chores, cleaning, field work, and then feeding the livestock and milking again. Brenda works for Polaris in Medina.

Mark and Brenda have three children. Brandon is 34 and lives and works in St. Cloud. Denise, 22, is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota and plans to continue her education to become a large animal veterinarian. Lucas, 18, will attend St. Cloud State University this fall and is interested in studying physics.

For more information on the Rural Life Celebration, call the Christ Our Light parish office at 763-389-2115 or Kathy Langer at 320-229-6020.

What: Rural Life Celebration

When: 11 a.m. Aug. 17

Where:  Mark and Brenda Winkelman farm, 13282 70th St., Milaca

Directions: From the north (Milaca), south (Princeton) or east (Cambridge):

Follow Hwy 169, turn west on Cty Rd 13 (3.4 miles), turn west (left) on Chestnut Rd/Cty Rd 13 (0.5 miles), turn north (right) on 130th Ave (0.7 miles), turn west (left) on 70th St., (0.3 miles), farm is on the right.

From the west (St. Cloud): Follow Hwy 23, turn east (right) on Hwy 95 (17.3 miles), turn north (left) on 140th Ave/Mille Lacs Cty Rd 6 (3.8 miles), turn east (right) on Chestnut Rd/Cty Rd 13 (1 mile), turn north (left) on 130th Ave (0.7 miles), turn west (left) on 70th St. (0.3 miles), farm is on the right.