The Rural Life Celebration Handbook

What is a Rural Life Celebration? 

The purpose of a Rural Life Celebration is to affirm, edify, bless and celebrate those in rural communities.

A Rural Life Celebration helps highlight the life of the rural church and reminds us that our roots are deep in the soil of this earth, and that we and the earth belong to God.  Rural people are stewards of the thin layer of topsoil that feeds our world. Our Creator placed us here to till the garden, not to despoil it; to grow and share food, not to hoard it; and to leave this treasure of soil, air, and water more productive than we found it.

On these special days, we celebrate that rural and urban people, country and city, wilderness and village, are bound together by the need for food and the care of creation. We come to celebrate and recognize all who provide food for God’s children.

Rural Life Celebration Handbook

The handbook is written to give you ideas and information. You may use all or part of the information or items provided. You are encouraged to develop rural life celebrations in the manner that best suits your situation. This resource was written with the intention that it would be used with a Catholic audience, but it can be used in any ecumenical setting.

Celebration Themes, Components and Timing

The celebration can include or be built around any or several of the following:

  • Honoring local leaders in the community who have exemplified extraordinary stewardship or service.
  • Honoring “Century Farms”, those whose farms have been in operation for 100 years or more.  
  • Rogation Days, traditionally celebrated just before Ascension Thursday and include a blessing of seed, soil and sower.
  • Earth Day, normally celebrated on April 22 (the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970), but this can be celebrated anytime in April or May and usually accompanies tree planting ceremonies or other traditions that focus on respect for the earth.
  • Soil and Water Stewardship Week is usually celebrated from the last Sunday in April through the first Sunday in May.  (See http://www.nacdnet.org/stewardship.  The National Association of Conservation Districts publishes materials for activities throughout the week.)
  • Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4), patron saint of animals.
  • St. Isidore (May 15), patron saint of farmers; and his wife, St. Maria (September 14).
  • Feast of the Assumption (August 15) celebrates the first fruits of the harvest.

Click on the links below for more:

Planning the Celebration

Appendix A: Prayers, Blessings and Worships Aid

Appendix B: Alternative Prayer Services

Appendix C: Samples of Promotional Materials

Appendix D: Example of an Event Budget

Appendix E: Suggested Timeline

Full Handbook