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Peg Schieffer, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Crofton, assists Father Michael Schmitz at the altar June 20 during a Mass for good weather and harvests at Beaver Creek Cemetery. Photo by Andrew Smolek, for the Catholic Voice.

Parishes share harvest prayer

The tradition dates back more than 50 years in the Menominee and Crofton area.

Farmers and others gather for nine consecutive Mondays – June through August – at Beaver Creek Cemetery to say a rosary and other prayers for good weather and strong harvests.

"I feel that it’s worthwhile; it’s praying for a good harvest," said Nancy Schieffer, a member of St. Boniface Parish in Menominee who helps organize the evening prayers.

One of those nine Mondays – this year June 20 – includes an outdoor Mass at the cemetery, located a few miles north and between the two communities. Attendance varies from a dozen to two dozen people for the rosaries, and up to 60 for the Masses.

Father Michael Schmitz, recently retired as pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Crofton and St. Andrew Parish in Bloomfield, has helped celebrate the Masses for 15 years.

The tradition is an important act of faith, Father Schmitz said.

"People are sincere in their prayer lives," he said. "God provides."

No one is certain, but the special prayers at the cemetery – which first served Immaculate Conception Parish when it was founded in 1890 in the Beaver Creek community – appear to have begun in the 1950s, Schieffer said.

And the prayers might date back as early as 1936, when Immaculate Conception Church closed and parishioners began attending Mass in either Menominee or Crofton, she said.

The tradition began as a nine-day novena in August, but people decided to start the prayers earlier in the growing season, she said. Over the last 50 years or so, the gatherings have been held on nine consecutive Mondays, Schieffer said.

Duane Guenther, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Crofton who farms a half-mile from the cemetery, said his family has been attending the prayer sessions for decades, and he intends to help keep the tradition going.

"My grandma and grandpa used to come and pick us up and we’d say the rosary," Guenther said. "It’s a tradition and a good thing."

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