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Jerry Costello

A Good Harvest

November 15, 2015

When you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table with your family this year and you say grace—making it a point to add “and bless those who prepared this meal”—go a step further and add a thought for “those who grew it,” too. They could use it. 

                That’s what 16 seminarians from the Midwest discovered this summer as they paid a visit to a Minnesota farm. It was yet another day helping them prepare for the priesthood, and it turned out to be time well spent. Many of them will be assigned to rural parishes, for one thing. But beyond that, they found themselves dealing with much larger issues.

                “Farmers have a lot of wisdom to share,” said one of them. “They’re not just in the office like a lot of people. They’re connected with life.”

                The visit—to a 1,500-acre farm owned by Jim Glisczinski—was one stop in a weeklong series sponsored by the St. Paul (Minnesota) Seminary School of Divinity that concentrated on rural issues and the stewardship of creation. Glisczinski put the matter in perspective for the seminarians, who come from six different dioceses.

                “We can put the seed in the ground and work the fields,” he said. “But the rest is up to Jesus Christ.”

                Maria Wiering filed a report on the visit for The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese. In it, she referred to the nuts-and-bolts aspect of the tour—the nature of crop cycles, agribusiness and the challenges of farming in general—but also emphasized the basic qualities of life on a farm, and how it accords with the concerns of Pope Francis.

                “‘Laudato Si’ is a game-changer,” said Christopher Thompson, referring to the pope’s recent encyclical on humanity’s relationship with the environment. As academic dean of the school of divinity, he accompanied the seminarians on their visit. “I really think it’s the charter for the third millennium and the new evangelization. The ‘new evangelization’ can’t just be a concept or a program. It has to translate into a new and radical form of life.”

                Thompson made clear that farming is definitely a key part of that ‘radical form’ of life. “Agriculture is central to a people’s culture,” he said. 

                A seminarian on the tour, Matthew Quail from St. Paul, said the visit impressed upon him the importance of caring for the land and being connected to it. He called the life that farmer Glisczinski experienced “lived humanity in God’s providence.”

                As for Glisczinski, he thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Responding to a question from one of the seminarians, he said he’s been working on the farm since he was five, when he brought water to the calves born on land his father had bought. He now grows mostly corn and soybeans, and he’s grateful that God has given him a good year.

                He also said he remembers a time when the parish priest would visit a farm to pray for a good harvest—and in response one of his visitors read something from the Rural Life Prayerbook.

                “Almighty and eternal God,” the prayer said, “You are Lord of the harvest. Bless this crop of ours, Lord; make it plentiful and rich.”

                It’s a good prayer, and a simple one. Just the kind you might want to keep and use on Thanksgiving Day. 


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