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Heralding the harvest: Einck farm in rural Iona is site of diocesan Mass

Ron, Janelle and Jackie Einck stand by the shrine that was created in preparation for the Harvest Mass on Sunday.

IONA -- The grass has been mowed; the shrine has been built. The stage is set at the Ron and Janelle Einck farm for the 21st annual Diocese of Winona Harvest Mass.

Bishop John Quinn will celebrate the Mass Sunday afternoon at the rural Iona locale, and hundreds of guests are expected for the occasion.

"They've told us that it's typically right around 700 people," said Janelle.

The Catholic Diocese of Winona encompasses the 20 counties and 114 parishes across southern Minnesota. The Harvest Mass moves around the diocese, giving each deanery a chance to host the event.

The Harvest Mass was last in the Worthington deanery just two years ago, on the Jim and Joan Joens farm in rural Wilmont. This year, it was supposed to be in the eastern part of the state, but that location fell through.

The tri-parish cluster of St. Ann in Slayton, St. Columba in Iona and St. Mary in Lake Wilson agreed to be the host parish, and the Eincks were asked to provide the site.

"We more or less said yes right away," said Ron.

"We said we wouldn't volunteer, but if we were asked we wouldn't say no," added Janelle.

Due to the change of venue, the Eincks and the other Harvest Mass planners have only had since April to prepare for the big event. The Eincks credit JoAnn Biren with organizing all the committees that have dealt with various aspects of the Mass.

"She told us all we had to do was get the place ready," said Janelle.

"There's a wonderful committee of people from the parishes up there who have been working really hard," said Lisa Kremer, parish social ministry coordinator with Catholic Charities, which co-sponsors the Harvest Mass along with the Diocese of Winona Rural Life Committee. "We've just helped with the setup and promotion; they've done all the hard work."

The Eincks have been aided in their quest to "get the place ready" by their three sons, Nick and his wife Brianne, Mike, Joey and wife Tara (baby Natalie), and daughter Jackie, 17. In addition to sprucing up the building and grounds, they built a shrine to the Virgin Mary. The Harvest Mass is traditionally celebrated on Aug. 15, which is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is the most important of the Marian feasts and a holy day of obligation for Catholics.

The Eincks' shrine features a statue of Mary inside an alcove, which was fashioned from an old bathtub buried in the ground. It sits at the entrance to the farm, near the Einck farm sign.

By the time Sunday rolls around, a special cross will also grace the landscaping.

The cross is being designed and created by the Eincks' brother-in-law, Vern Behrends, and his son, Brad Behrends, both of Worthington. It is a Celtic cross, modeled after one that stands at the Iona Abbey in Scotland, with a ring where the cross pieces intersect.

"I went to our Catholic source book, which was actually put out by Father Peter Klein, who was a pastor in the past here (in Worthington)," noted Vern about the cross design.

The cross will be constructed from wood and metal.

"They're going to cut it out of steel at Huisman (manufacturing)," Vern explained. "There are going to be words cut into the ring that say 'Diocese of Winona Harvest Mass, August 15, 2010.' It'll be a keepsake, with stained wood panels on front of that."

After the Mass is concluded, the cross will stay in place at the Einck farm, a permanent reminder of the event.

In addition to designing the cross, Vern -- a recently ordained deacon in the Worthington deanery -- will also play a role in the Mass itself.

The schedule of events on Sunday begins with music by the Buse family at 3:15 p.m. Trolleys will be available to shuttle people from the parking area to the festival site.

The outdoor Mass begins at 4 p.m. in front of a line of pine trees that edge the Eincks' home.

A supper of locally grown foods -- pork loin and garden bounty -- will be served after the Mass. The Goedtke Family Musicians will entertain during the supper, and fair trade and locally produced items will be available for sale.

The Einck farm is located at 1058 First St. in rural Iona. From Worthington, take Nobles County 25 (formerly Minnesota 266) north to Nobles County 13 (Hesselroth Avenue), turn right and continue north six miles to First Street, then two miles west to the farm.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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