Father Mark Stec, vicar forane for the East Vicariate, leads the spring farm blessing at the farm of the Jeanne and Jim Tennis family in Mt. Carmel. Father Robert Zwilling, St. Mary Mt. Carmel pastor, is also the rural life coordinator. Jim is the middle child of 11 who grew up on a small dairy farm in the St. Sebastian area.
His mother was the church organist at St. Sebastian Catholic Church for more than 50 years. Jim began farming on his own in 1987 when he took over the Beckerman family land, and built the first 435 acres into the present-day 1,300 acres that he owns and rents. He farms with part-time help from his brother, Raymond.
In his homily, Father Stec talked about what farmers need for their crops: the soil, the sun and rain at the right times, the fertilizers and chemicals, the equipment and every other “necessity” to grow corn or beans or whatever crop is planted. “Success isn’t all about what you do,” Father Stec said. “What’s important is what God does.” Putting trust in God and prayer can help “us see what God is doing in our lives. As people of faith we must recognize that God is at the root of it all. And all that we have, all that we are comes to us as a gift from God.”
After blessing the people, Father Stec began the recitation of the rosary as priests and people moved to different areas for the blessing of seeds, the blessing of the fields and soil, the blessing of farm tools and machinery and the blessing of the animals — where dairy cattle Kay, Robin and Sophia waited for their blessing before concluding prayers were said.
Each year, the Diocese of Belleville holds a spring and fall event to ask for blessings and pray in thanksgiving for the harvests.
To find out more, please call Fr. Zwilling at 262-5337.