August 29, 2013
“Pastors are shepherds. And shepherds should smell like their sheep!”
Homily for the Priests of Rome,
Holy Thursday, 2013
Ten miles South of Vega—But sometimes shepherds smell like cows.
Case in point: Aug. 14 at Mission Dairy, 10 miles south of Vega,
It was a different backdrop for this particular Mass, celebrated on the Vigil of the Feast of the Assumption.
Instead of an enclosed area sealed off from the sounds of the outside world, the occasional baying of Holstein cattle could be heard in the distance.
Instead of the sounds of central air and heating or a ceiling fan, the chattering of birds in the loft could be occasionally heard.
To the west, a glorious sunset would give way to a developing thunderstorm that would provide timely showers later that evening.
Thirty-five people, most of whom are employed by Mission Dairy, gathered with Father Jim Schmitmeyer, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Vega, for a Barn Mass. The Spanish-language Mass was celebrated in the dairy’s maintenance building.
“Many of the Mission Dairy workers come from Mexico and Honduras,” said Mike Schouten, a parishioner at St. Anthony’s Church, Hereford, who along with his wife Zeba owns and operates the dairy. “This Mass was an opportunity for Father Schmitmeyer to welcome and become acquainted with new workers at the dairy. It also offered easy access to the Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation for Immaculate Conception parishioners employed at the dairy which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Father Schmitmeyer, who said he “felt right at home” at the dairy, told The West Texas Catholic he’d been wanting to celebrate a Barn Mass since he arrived in the Diocese of Amarillo and conveyed his joy in his homily.
“I’m very happy to be here. Like most of you, I have milked many cows. My father was a dairy farmer and all my brothers and most of my nephews are small, family farmers in Ohio, and they all milk cows.
“For me, a field or a barn or any workplace is an appropriate place to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass because during Mass, we not only offer to God the love of our hearts, but also the work of our hands.
So, thank you for the opportunity to offer Holy Mass in this place…this place of hard work, which reminds us all that the Savior of the World was born in a place similar to this.”