SALINA, Kan. — While only a dozen people attended at the annual St. Isidore Day May 15 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, the audience — and hopefully awareness — of the event reached beyond those in attendance.
“We’ve been planning on working around the pandemic since March,” said Art Befort, president of the Salina Diocese Rural Life Commission.
Instead of hosting the annual event in the western portion of the diocese, it was held at the cathedral, with a livestream of the Mass available online.
“There’s another level we have access to when we have streaming and other people can watch it,” he said.
In addition to the livestream of the Mass and also the “blessing of the flock,” the commission invited priests from around the diocese to bless flocks and fields, and uploaded videos and photos to share on May 15, the feast of St. Isidore the Farmer.
“The benefit is we had more clergy involved this year,” Befort told The Register, Salina’s diocesan newspaper. “I think there were some additional things we were able to do this year that we haven’t done before, and odds are we wouldn’t have done them otherwise.”
Extra efforts this year included a video from Father Damian Richards, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Beloit, St. Mary Parish in Smith Center, St. Theresa Parish in Mankato, St. Mary Parish in Glasco and Sacred Heart Parish in Esbon. In the video, Richards explained the life of St. Isidore.
Additionally, Father Michael Leiker blessed fields in Colby, Father Antony Kulandaijesu blessed flocks and fields near Wilson and Father David Micheal blessed fields south of Esbon. All photos and videos were shared on Facebook.com/SalinaDiocese May 15. Kulandaijesu and Micheal are priests of the Heralds of Good News religious congregation.
“We didn’t have much for attendance, but have we learned a bit more about St. Isidore as a diocese? Yes,” Befort said. “In the end, were we effective? Who knows, but we’re pleased with what transpired.”
As in years past, the bishop offered Mass in celebration of the saint’s feast day.
“St. Isidore and his wife, Maria, wouldn’t pass the Hollywood litmus test,” Bishop Gerald L. Vincke of Salina said in his homily. “There wasn’t great thunder coming down. They simply walked with God.”
The couple worked their entire lives for one landowner, farming the fields.
“He was content with his life because they knew the love of God for them,” the bishop said. “They didn’t feel the need to grasp after things. They were simply content knowing that God was with them.”
Vincke said it is important to take the life of prayer as an example of how to begin all of life’s tasks.
The second noteworthy aspect of their life, he said, is their concern for the poor.
“They didn’t have a whole lot, but they were always concerned about giving and helping those in need,” he said. “People would follow them home, and there Maria and Isidore would always provide a meal for them.”
Vincke referenced Pope Francis’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” issued in 2015.
“Everything is connected: our relationship with God, our relationship with others and our relationship with the earth, too,” he said. “It’s all connected. How we treat one affects how we treat the others as well.”
The bishop reflected on an early-May hail storm in the Salina area.
“A farmer told me a beautiful story. He went out to check on his cows in the hail storm, and the mother cows were lying down and the calves were all tucked underneath the cows,” Vincke said. “It’s a natural instinct for mothers to care for their child. Even cows show us the way.”
Following Mass, the bishop went to the east lawn of the cathedral to bless a dog named Sadie and a horse named Josie owned by Greg Brenneman, from Solomon.
Linda Struble, a parishioner from Sacred Heart Cathedral, was present for the events and greeted Josie after she was blessed.
“We’re small crop farmers, and I love animals,” she said, adding this was her first time to attend St. Isidore Day.
She lives on an 80-acre farm west of Salina.
“Farmers do so much,” she said. “I don’t think people realize what they go through to get crops out. I think they need blessings, especially this year. I want to support all the farmers who have lost so much during the pandemic.”
Vincke said St. Isidore’s life is an example to be grateful for what one has.
“So often, even in my own life, I say, ‘If only this were to happen’ or, ‘If I were in a different spot’ or, ‘If this was taken care of …'” he said. “St. Isidore just did his daily duties with devotion and love.”
“They say, ‘Bloom wherever you’re planted.’ And also, bring holiness to the temporal world by loving God, loving others and loving God’s creation.”
Bonar is editor of The Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Salina.