Agriculture is theme for 125th anniversary of Catholic Diocese

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Farm Forum

The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year with a final event in Sioux Falls Aug. 14-16.

Regional celebrations are also being held around the Diocese, and last month St. Wilfrid’s Catholic Church of Woonsocket played host to one of those. The event was planned and organized by members of area parishes.

The theme for our celebration was our agricultural heritage, celebrating rural congregations and farmers who have been a part of South Dakota’s Catholic Churches from the very start. Afternoon events included a corn sandbox, an animal nursery, machinery displays, agricultural life presentations and a Farm Mass at the Kent and Gay Swenson Farm.

The animal nursery included beef cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, ducks, puppies and kittens.

The corn sandbox, built by Father Jim Friedrich, was active with kids playing throughout the afternoon. The machinery displays included both antique tractors from various owners, as well as current machinery used on the farm today.

“Life on a Melon Farm” was presented by Heather Swenson, followed by “Life on a Family Farm” by Jonathan, Aaron, Nathan and Megan Linke. Rodney Yost gave a demonstration on horsemanship.

Various Diocesan displays and booths were set up to share information, including the local Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Right to Life, Quilting for Others, the St. Wilfrid’s Fundraising Committee selling John Green prints of St. Wilfrid’s Church, and the opportunity to take your picture with Pope Francis (a life-size model). Musical entertainment was provided by the Christian music group “River of Life.”

Bishop Paul Swain gave a blessing of the land, animals and machinery and then all headed to the “melon shed” for a Farm Mass. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Paul Swain, Father Jim Friedrich and many visiting priests.

Following Mass, everyone was invited to the newly renovated St. Wilfrid’s Church basement for a beef sandwich meal. During the meal, visitors were offered a guided tour of the church by Father Friedrich.

The next regional 125th celebration will be July 12 in Marty to celebrate the role Native Americans have played in the diocese.