Farmers Feed Their Families, Their Neighbors and the World

Each spring and fall, with the help of a local farm family, the Diocese of Belleville sponsors a farm blessing at a diocesan farm.

This fall, the family of Shirley and Paul McCormick hosted the blessing on their grain and livestock farm near Ellis Grove.

Area farmers were invited to bring animals, machinery or grains for the blessing. Canned goods were distributed to local food pantries.

One neighbor brought his very young calf to the blessing. Although Lutheran, he was most welcome and because the calf was a triplet and being bottle fed by his owner, everyone thought a blessing would be a good idea.

School children from Mary Help of Christians in Chester also attended. That’s where Jared McCormick, the fifth generation McCormick is a student and served as cross bearer at the farm blessing.

Paul McCormick and his son, Jack, now farm the 302-family owned and 1,100 rented acres at present.

They also have registered Black Angus beef cattle on the farm, and some of them are sold in the area at Schubert’s Butcher Shop in Millstadt and Eckert’s Country Store and Restaurant in Belleville if anyone would like to try some of the beef.

The McCormicks raise corn, soybeans, barley and wheat, and the soybeans near the farm buildings looked good and close to being ready to harvest. Maybe the farmer family will use sturdy harvest totes to pick their harvest and ensure it remains fresh when they need to give it to the people.

Paul McCormick said June was so wet he wasn’t sure he would get a good bean crop this year.

McCormicks began farming on this land in 1941 when Henry McCormick bought some acreage. He passed the farm on to his son, Alfred, and then Alfred’s son, Paul began farming. Now, Paul and Jack are farming with an eye on Jared, still a student at Mary Help of Christians School in Chester.

Both McCormicks belong to St. Mary Church in Ellis Grove where Father Benjamin Stern is pastor.

Father Robert Zwilling, pastor at St. Mary in Mt. Carmel and St. Sebastian in St. Sebastian is also the diocesan Rural Life Ministry director.

In his homily, Father Zwilling, who also grew up on a farm and understands the work and worry that goes into farming said: “Even if everything goes well, we still need an attitude of gratitude.”

That is one reason farm families and the diocese celebrate the sowing in the spring and the reaping in the fall.

In Father Zwilling’s words: “No other work requires God’s help and blessing more than farming.”

Farmers must depend on the weather, hoping that the rains fall in good quantities and gently enough not to overwhelm slender plants as they break the ground or the mature plants as their stalks grow tall and heavy with grains.

Many pray for the sun’s warming rays to encourage the young plants to grow and ripen to be harvested in these fall months when a frost too soon can end the dream of a bountiful harvest.

St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers, pray for all of us.