Pierz tractor blessing ‘brings community together’

Father Ken Popp likes the rural life. And one of his favorite duties as pastor of the rural parishes of St. Joseph in Pierz and St. Michael in Buckman is the annual tractor blessing.

Twenty-eight tractors gathered in a parking lot on the southern edge of Pierz May 8 for this year’s event, which was held in conjunction with the Pierz Healy High School FFA’s “Drive Your Tractor to School Day.”

“This has been something that we always love to do and this year was our biggest year, bringing in 28 tractors,” said Alyssa Pawlu, a senior at the school and member of St. Joseph Parish. “The FFA officers [plan it] and then we send out invitations to the community.”

When Father Popp arrived in Pierz 11 years ago, he got to know some of the youth of the parish and heard about the tractor event at the school. He thought of St. Isidore, the patron saint of farmers, and suggested the blessing. The kids were excited about it, he said. He remembers one student in particular, Derek Marshik, who helped him with the blessing that first year.

“Tractor day and the blessing benefits the community because the young students who bring their tractors have a common bond,” Father Popp  said. “They work the land that God has given us and they know that they must be good stewards of that land for future generations of this community.”

Gathering the students with the wider community is another benefit of the event.

“Any time we have the opportunity to interact with the youth in their world it’s a good thing,” said Linda Kroll, whose son Caden is a junior and participated in the event. The Krolls are members of Holy Trinity Parish in Royalton.

Father Popp gives an extra blessing to a tractor that had a little trouble starting up after the event.

“I think the blessing brings the community together,” said Jackson Daiker, a sophomore. “It’s nice to keep our faith within the community strong.”

Weston Hoheisel, a seventh-grader and member of St. Joseph Parish, said he brought his tractor because a blessing would bring good luck.

Once the tractors were organized and parked in rows, Father Popp gathered everyone around him for a reading and a short talk about the importance of caring for creation.

“You’re just guests here,” he told them. “You have to take care of the land for those that will work it in the future,” he said.

Then he handed out St. Isidore prayer cards before going to each tractor for a blessing.

“You can keep these cards in your tractors,” he said.

Father Popp will retire this summer, so this year’s event was bittersweet.

“I realized that the blessing this year was my last as pastor, and it was a kind of a letting go,” he said. “That connection with our young people is so great and that I will miss.”



Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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