Rural Life


"So much the more, then, must great care be taken to preserve for the nation the essential elements of what might be called genuine rural culture. We must preserve the qualities of industriousness, simple and honest living, respect for authority, especially for parental authority, love of country, and loyalty to traditions which have proved a source of good throughout the centuries. We must preserve readiness to aid one another within the family circle and amongst families, from home to home. All of these qualities we must have animated with a true religious spirit, for without such a spirit these very virtues tend to degenerate into unbridled greed for profit. May the fear of God and faith in God, a faith which finds daily expression in prayers recited together by the whole family, sustain and guide the life of the workers of the fields." [Pius XII,Address to National Convention of Farm Owner-Operators, 1946].

Prayer for our earth

All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

- Concluding prayer of Laudato Si’ to be shared “with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator.”

Has Rural America Become the New “Inner City”?

An analysis by reporters of the Wall Street Journal shows that since the 1990s, “sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures of socioeconomic well-being—a decline that’s accelerating.”*..... READ MORE >>

  • A history of faith through the generations

    The McGowan family’s roots run deep at St. Mary Parish in Lyndon Station As one of the original farm families in Lyndon Station dating back to 1855, the McGowans have made it a family tradition to pass down their love of farming and their Catholic faith through eight generations. The McGowans are a tight-knit group […]

  • Faith, family and farming

    Jerry Durst reflects on 98 years of life in Keyesville It takes a special kind of person to be a farmer. The long days and hard work are not a lifestyle for everyone. Many wonder why someone would work so hard for so little. But, hard work and love for the Lord speak volumes as […]

  • To give is to receive

    Jim and Carol Cauley know giving back is the greatest form of gratitude Farming on the same land since 1854, the Cauley family brings a constant and stabilizing presence to the small community at St. Mary Parish in Lyndon Station. St. Mary Parish is the oldest active parish in the diocese and thrives on a […]

  • Celebrating Rural Life Day

    Recognizing farms from the Wausau Deanery The 37th annual Diocesan Rural Life Day celebration was hosted September 14 on the farm of Mike and Sue Fischer of St. Florian Parish in Hatley.  This event is held each year, rotated between deaneries within the Diocese, to celebrate our connection to rural life and honor those who […]

  • Living the rural life

    The Fischer family shares their farm and faith for Rural Life Day St. Florian Parish in Hatley For Mike and Sue Fischer of St. Florian’s Parish in Hatley, life is about faith, family and farming. Married in 1971, the couple bought their dairy farm in 1972. What began with two people has now grown into […]


Each year one of the deaneries in our Diocese hosts this celebration of our connection to and dependence upon rural life.  In the recent past, this celebration has been celebrated on a farm making this connection even more obvious.

At each Rural Life Day celebration, awards are given to recognize accomplishments by those living and serving the rural areas of the hosting deanery.

  • The Diocese recognizes an outstanding farm family with the "Strangers and Guests" Award. The name of this award is taken from Leviticus, Chapter 25, where God says to the Jewish people, "The Land belongs to me, and to me you are only strangers and guests."  Criteria by which the family is chosen include both farm and faith.
  • With fewer and fewer people involved in production agriculture (farming), we need to recognize the significant contributions to rural life of those people involved in agri-business but not actually farming.  This Friend of Rural Life Award, allows us to recognize these key individuals who are so vitally important not just because of the agricultural service they provide, but because of the example they live of embracing the fullness of the truth in the Catholic church.
  • Century Farm Recognition is given to those farms in the host deanery who have maintained active ownership in the same family for 100 or more years

"Herbicide Controversy: Care for our Common Home?"

Part I

Part II

Project Milk

We wish to thank everyone who has given so generously during Lent and June Dairy Days for Project Milk! Your contributions are not only an act of charity for the orphans of Casa Hogar in Peru, but also a strong show of solidarity for our dairy farmers suffering under an unfair pricing system! Visit the Project Milk website.

Project Seed

A portion of the Lenten CRS Rice Bowls remains within the Diocese of La Crosse to fund Project Seed aiding local farmers with low cost, non-GMO seeds.  Visit the Project Seed pageClick here for the 2017 Project Seed Brochure.

Hotline number for farmers in crisis
Don't wait until you think a farmer has suffered all he can. Let him know that help is available. The Wisconsin Farm Center offers a one-call one-stop resource for legal, financial and psychological counseling: 1-800-942-2474.

How can you help the farmers?
Show that you care through prayer for our farmers. For more information on the rural crisis, check out the National Catholic Rural Life Conference website at For information on the Green Ribbon Campaign resource materials, call the Office of Ministries and Social Concerns at (608) 791-2667.


Dan Kitzhaber has been serving the Church in youth, young adult and family ministry for the past 15 years. He presently serves the parishes of St. John the Baptist in Marshfield and Christ the King in Spencer as Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Before starting parish work, Dan was very involved in agriculture dating back to his childhood growing up on a dairy farm near Greenwood. He was active with the FFA organization during high school and served as a state FFA officer during college years.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Journalism with a minor in International Agriculture. His academic plan was preparing him for a career in international agriculture trade and marketing. He served on the Agricultural Advisory Committee or then Rep. Steve Gunderson. During this time he became involved with the Farm Bureau, competing in their Young Farmer Discussion Meet on the local, state & national levels. Prior to his senior year of college, he was granted in internship at the USDA in Washington D.C. However, since graduating from college, God has asked Dan to labor in a different type of field.

Though you can take the boy off the farm, you can't take the farm out of the boy. With the combining of the Offices of Justice and Peace with the Office of Ministries, an individual was sought to serve as liaison for the Rural Life Committee. Someone with skills and experience in the areas of agriculture and ministry. Bishop Listecki had learned of Dan's background and in collaboration with Christopher Ruff extended the invitation for him to serve in this capacity. Please feel free to contact him regarding issues & concerns of rural life.

Contact info:   John the Baptist  (715)-384-3252 Ext. 233 - Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Christ the King  (715) 659-4480 Ext. 4 - Tuesday, Thursday