Rural Life Sunday to celebrate God’s creation and blessings of small town living

Categories: Around the Diocese

July 5, 2013, edition
By Jennifer Janikula

God is our Creator. Catholics across the world proclaim this universal truth when they recite the Apostle’s Creed during Mass, when they teach creation stories to Sunday school students and when they bless their food before meals.

That truth is at the heart of the annual Rural Life Celebration in the St. Cloud Diocese.

“Everything we have can be traced back to God’s hand,” said Crosier Father Jerry Schik who serves the South Mille Lacs Catholic Community, a cluster of parishes including Holy Cross of Onamia, St. Rita of Hillman, Sacred Heart of Wahkon and St. Therese “Little Flower” of Vineland.

catholiccharitieslogoThese parishes, in partnership with Catholic Charities and the Diocese of St. Cloud, will honor God’s presence in all creation by hosting the annual Rural Life Celebration in Onamia Aug. 18.

“God is present not only in people but in the earth, in the seeds, in the plants, in the oil and in the coal,” Father Schik added. “Our existence comes from the earth, not just from food, but from copper, steel, petroleum, plastic — your cars and your computers—all from the hand of God.”

The Rural Life Celebration is a longstanding tradition in the St. Cloud Diocese. The celebration honors God as our Creator and highlights the blessings of rural living.

New focus for 2013

In the past, family farms have been the setting for the celebration, but this year, diocesan officials expanded the definition of rural living to embrace small town life.

Diocesan LogoKathy Langer, director of Social Concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, explained: “This year we are celebrating rural life in the context of small rural communities. We asked the Onamia area parishes to host the event because of the richness of their Catholic history, their cultural diversity and the unique way people have worked together to make their community vibrant.”

Richard and Barb Schmidt of Holy Cross Parish in Onamia are the co-chairs of the Rural Life Celebration committee. They realize many small towns are struggling, but hope to reconnect people to the blessings of rural communities.

“Small towns and their small businesses are the backbone of rural living,” Barb said.

Richard hopes to “share the strength of spiritual and civic commitment and help others be thankful for all nature has to offer like logging, farming, hunting and fishing.”

Mass and more, plus lunch

The Rural Life Celebration will begin at 11 a.m. with an outdoor Mass in the park near the Onamia Depot Library. Guests are invited to BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair).

As Mass concludes, Crosier Father Kermit Hall will discuss the history of the Catholic presence in the area, likely touching on the work of the Crosier priests who operated a seminary, the Fransiscan sisters who served as teachers and nurses and the Benedictine sisters who established the Little Flower Mission.

After the brief history lesson, attendees will be treated to a free picnic lunch including chicken and rice salad, vegetable salad, croissants, fruit and cookies. Musical entertainment will also be provided.  Organizers expect as many as 800 people to attend.

For more information about Rural Life Sunday, contact Kathy Langer at 320-229-6020 or


Date: Sunday, August 18
Time:  11 a.m. outdoor Mass followed by free lunch, speakers and entertainment
Place: Onamia Depot Library, 204 Roosevelt Road, Onamia
Bring: Lawn chairs
For more information:  Contact Kathy Langer at 320-229-6020 or