EAST CHAIN - At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, devoted Catholics from 114 parishes across southern Minnesota will gather at Bernie and Julie Petrowiak's East Chain farm.
They will celebrate the Diocese of Winona's feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Harvest Mass.
The service takes place each year on Aug. 15 at a different location.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is considered by the Roman Catholic Church as a Holy Day of Obligation, a feast day on which Catholics are required to attend Mass and avoid servile work. There are six Holy Days of Obligation observed in the United States.
Julie Petrowiak said the couple was chosen about a year ago as the site for the Harvest Mass.
The Petrowiaks set aside 3 acres, on which they planted rye and oats that already have been harvested, to serve as a parking lot, stage and tent area.
After the Harvest Mass, which includes an opportunity for the faithful to bring small containers of produce to be blessed, a pork dinner will be served and a band will entertain.
Dawn Petrowiak of St. John Vianney Church in Fairmont said the produce brought for blessing can be home-grown or purchased at the store, and taken home after the service.
Father Peter Schuster, priest at both St. John Vianney and Holy Family, said the Assumption Mass and Harvest Mass do not need to be celebrated on the same day, but often are. The two have been associated since the early 10th century in Eastern Europe.
According to Catholic tradition, The Assumption, along with the Immaculate Conception, are two dogmas that have been infallibly defined by the church. The Assumption celebrates when Mary was taken into heaven without dying. The church believes that Mary never sinned, and therefore didn't die, which is taught be to the consequence of sin.
The feast is intended to assure believers of an afterlife. The Harvest Mass offers thanksgiving for God's provision to believers.
There is no cost to attend the Mass, but there is a cost for the meal and band following. It is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.
The Petrowiak farm is south of Fairmont on County Road 8.