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 | By Julia Morgansai

Bishop Gruss leads annual Rural Life Mass, celebrating agricultural heritage in the Thumb

Bishop Robert Gruss, alongside fellow clergy, led the annual Rural Life Mass and Blessing of Seeds, a cherished tradition that brings the Catholic community together to celebrate the agricultural life defining the Thumb region. The June 1 Mass at the historic Octagon Barn in Gagetown drew numerous attendees who came to honor the unique culture of rural living and pray for good fruit in their fields, gardens, hearts and community.

“The Rural Life Mass is about giving thanks to God for the beauty of his creation,” remarked Father Stephen Blaxton, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Sandusky/Marlette/Peck and one of the concelebrants of the Mass. The event included a Rogation Day procession and a Mass for Civil Needs, specifically asking for blessings and bounty for the year's planting, growing and harvesting seasons.

The Rural Life Mass also serves to strengthen the bond between the rural faithful and the diocese.

"It's an opportunity for Catholics living far from the diocesan cathedral to see their bishop in person and feel solidarity with him. It can be a source of unity for Catholics in rural communities who face many challenges, often in isolating circumstances," Father Blaxton added.

The Mass's location at the Octagon Barn offers an inviting atmosphere, which Father Blaxton believes has evangelistic potential.

"There's an ease of access to having Mass at the Octagon Barn that I think is inviting for people who, for whatever reason, have trouble finding their way into a church,” he said.

The Rural Life Mass stands as a testament to the deep-rooted Catholic faith in the Thumb region, celebrating the community's connection to the land and to each other.

Many talents and hands came together to support this celebration. Clergy present included Bishop Robert Gruss, Father Christopher Coman, Father Nate Harburg, Father Stephen Blaxton, Deacon David Gillesple, and Father Rob Pare. Brandon Byrne, the music leader at St. Joseph in Sandusky, organized the choir. Volunteers from Good Shepherd in Ubly, including Martin and Lucy Kubacki, helped set up the barn. The Caro Knights of Columbus Council #3224 cooked lunch, assisted by the Sandusky Knights of Columbus Council #4693, who managed parking and additional lunch preparations. The Holy Family Young Adults group greeted attendees.

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