Rural Life

2016 Rural Life Day was held at St. Joseph Parish in Menomonie, WI on October 7th.

To learn about the 2016 Rural Life Day and the Strangers and Guests Award winning Sabelko family, click here.



“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].


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


There is much justifiable concern on the part of many regarding the usage of biotechnology in particular that of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). The concern is two-fold:

  1. Is the engineering one of cooperation with God or manipulation of nature?
  2. Does the purchase and usage of GMO seed constitute cooperation with an unfair monopoly?

While the dialogue and debate of the above two questions continue, the Diocesan Rural Life Committee has decided to continue to offer non-GMO seed corn for Project Seed.

For more information on this, please read the article “Agriculture Biotechnology: A Catholic Rural Life Perspective” from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

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