Everyone is invited to the fifth annual Rural Life Mass on Aug. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Kautzky farm, about 5 miles south of Perry.
The outdoor Mass offers an opportunity for urban and rural people to come together to show solidarity with rural Iowans and celebrate their important role in the diocese.
The Mass will be on the farm of Greg and Lori Kautzky, parents of Father Zach Kautzky, at 18443 195th St., Perry. The couple is working with St. Patrick Parish in Perry to host the gathering.
“It’s an opportunity for the diocese as a community to observe a Mass in a nice, rural setting,” said Bob Smith, a member of St. Patrick’s worship committee and a planner for the event.
It's a chance for those who farm to come together with those who have roots in farming, added Lori and Greg.
“It used to be that people would have a real direct connection to farm life, whether themselves or their parents,” she said. “Now, people are more removed. I'm hoping this helps people feel more connected.”
Chuck Offenburger, who penned the “Iowa Boy” column in the Des Moines Register for 21 years, has seen rural Iowa change in the 50-plus years he’s been writing. He’ll share his thoughts after the Mass.
“I have seen tremendous change in rural life in the last half century. Much of that has been driven or dictated by the changes in agriculture,” he said. “One thing that has not changed is the need for faith.”
When rural communities were settled, one of the first things to be built was a church, he said.
Great leaders have come from rural communities, he said, mentioning Msgr. Luigi Ligutti.
“He was a classic example of a spiritual leader coming into a poor, rural area of coal miners and farmers and giving them direction,” Offenburger said. “He set a great model that we still see today in leaders of the faith out here, pulling our communities forward.”
Greg and Lori live on his grandparents' farm. His grandfather purchased about 80 acres in 1899. His father lived there and built another home on the farm.
“I grew up here next to my grandparents' house,” Greg said.
Now, the third generation farmer has a couple of sons and a son-in-law who farm corn and soybeans with him.