Near Waverly, Rural Life Sunday gives glimpse of farming as way of life

| June 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

More than 150 people attended the Rural Life Sunday Mass at Goldview Farms near Waverly June 24. Father Charles Lachowitzer, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, celebrated the Mass. Clergy (left-right) included Deacon Steve Maier, director of the archdiocesan Office of Parish and Clergy Services; Father Kenneth O’Hotto, pastor of St. Mary in Waverly, and retired pastor Father Martin Shallbetter. Bob Cunningham/For The Catholic Spirit

Father Kenneth O’Hotto, pastor of St. Mary in Waverly, immediately knew whom to call when asked to host Rural Life Sunday, an annual celebration of rural life in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“I knew that the Bakebergs would be able to handle this crowd,” Father O’Hotto said of the family who hosted the event June 24. “They know all the logistics … so they were willing to do it.”

The Bakebergs, owners of Goldview Farms, previously hosted Breakfast on the Farm, a community-wide opportunity to visit a farm, seven of the past eight years during the second weekend of June. It draws between 2,000 and 2,500 people.

“Basically we invite them out to the farm, give them a pancake breakfast and show them and educate them how their dairy products are made and what the farming life’s like,” Pat Bakeberg, 34, said.

Rural Life Sunday offered similar opportunities as well as an outdoor Mass. More than 150 people attended the event.

“Without faith, you wouldn’t be a farmer,” said Greg “Butch” Bakeberg, 71, Pat Bakeberg’s father. “[We] do a lot of praying.”

Besides the age-old challenge of weather, the Bakebergs face the challenge of dropping prices for their milk, soybeans and corn. They said super farms are making it more challenging for family farms like theirs to survive.

“You just trust God that he’s going to help you out,” Pat Bakeberg said.

Rural Life Sunday began with Mass followed by a luncheon and family activities. Attendees could ride the barrel train or hay wagon, see the dairy cows, and play with the dogs and cats.

“It was just fun, and I liked the ice cream and the pets and the animals,” said Asher Mahowald, a fourth-grader, who attends the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis with his family.

His father, Jude, 46, had attended Rural Life Sunday as a child at All Saints in Lakeville. “It’s a great event to come out here and get exposed to a little bit of farm life,” he said.

Father Charles Lachowitzer, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese, celebrated the Mass on the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. He talked about the sacredness of life and creation. “Let us be good stewards of the land and good stewards of people God has entrusted to our care,” Father Lachowitzer said.

He also explained how humans differ from animals, noting that only humans laugh, consider the future and forgive.

“Whether we are from a rural farm or an urban apartment building, we are wonderfully and uniquely made in the image and likeness of God,” Father Lachowitzer said. “Whether out here in the beauty of nature or somewhere else in the grandest of cathedrals, we glimpse in each Mass the heaven that is already here, united by this Eucharist and strengthened by this great sacrament of love.”

A few parishioners of St. John Neumann in Eagan, Father Lachowitzer’s former parish, attended Rural Life Sunday. They appreciated experiencing the farm, they said.

“There’s something peace-giving about being away from the hustle and bustle,” said John St. Peter, a St. John Neumann parishioner.

Bakeberg’s farm has been in their family for five generations, starting in 1873. The farm has grown under Pat Bakeberg and his wife, Joanna, 30, who are expecting their first child. “Butch” Bakeberg’s wife, Faye, 69, helps, too, along with some of their grandchildren, including Kaleb Bakeberg, who lives with his parents, Dave and Kris Bakeberg, in Waverly and attended the Mass.

“I thought it was pretty good, pretty cool to be on the farm,” said Kaleb Bakeberg, a senior at Howard Lake-Waverly High School, about the Mass.

People who attended Mass stayed well into the afternoon for the food and activities. “Butch” Bakeberg said the family typically tries to keep its Sunday schedule lighter and more recreational on despite the busyness of farm life. He said it’s an around-the-clock venture.

“There’s no such thing as a 40-hour week,” Pat Bakeberg added. “You’re in the barn nine hours a day at least, just feeding and milking [cows].”

By the time most attendees had cleared out late afternoon, a few of the Bakebergs resumed their Sunday farm routines. Kaleb Bakeberg began milking the cows, which takes about three hours since there’s 120 to milk. They also have 150 calves.

While he admitted milking isn’t his favorite task, he hopes to go into farming as an adult.

“That will be the sixth generation coming up,” Pat Bakeberg said.

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