Mass honors farmers in Remsen area
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
May 29, 2003
REMSEN - To offer prayers for a bountiful harvest and a safe planting season
for the farmers, St. Mary's High School organized a Mass on May 15, the Feast of
St. Isidore the Farmer.
According to Mary Arens, spiritual life director and theology teacher at St.
Mary's, this is the fourth year they have held such a Mass. She pointed out that
she got the idea for the liturgy after taking a class at Briar Cliff University
that focused on agriculture and farming.
"I was so moved by all of the research that we decided to do a St.
Isidore Mass in honor of all of the farmers of the community," she said.
"St. Isidore is the patron saint of farmers."
Grade and high school students attended the Mass. Parishioners of St. Mary's
and those of surrounding communities were also invited to take part in the
"In the opening procession we had farmers carry in soil and seeds and
place them at the foot of the altar," said Arens. These items were blessed
during the Communion meditation.
Lorne Nilles, who farms near Remsen, carried up soil to be blessed during the
He wanted to participate in the ceremony because they were blessed with a
great crop last year and he wanted to pray for a good harvest this year.
"I wish that even more farmers would take the time to attend this
service," said Nilles. "We tend to get in such a big hurry. Sometimes
we forget to look at all of the blessings in our lives."
He found the attendance by and prayers of the students as well as retired
community members to be affirming. Nilles said the farmers need all of the
support they can get.
With Remsen being such a strong farming community, Arens said it is important
that farmers know they are in the students' prayers and they are supported by
At the Communion meditation, students were invited to bring forth seeds and
soil for the blessing from their own farms. Along with Father Tim Johnson, who
celebrated Mass and led the blessing, the students participated in the blessing
as they extended their hands over the soil. During the blessing, the grade and
high school choir sang Holy Ground.
Arens planned the liturgy with the help of the prayer and liturgy committee
of the Christian Leadership Team made up of Andy Galles, Sharon Miller and Angie
During his homily, Father Johnson focused on the need for good stewardship of
the land. With this in mind, second grade students read an excerpt of a letter
from Chief Seattle that spoke of the sacredness of the land.
Arens noted that this letter was incorporated into a theology class on
morality that presently focused on respect for creation and church teaching
relating to stewardship of the land.
Along with soil and seeds from farms, some people brought soil and seeds from
In taking time out for God's blessings, Arens said, "It helps remind us
who is really in charge."