After harvest, an honor for Galesburg parish farm couple

CAMERON — Trying to arrange a meeting with a farmer who is working long hours and dodging rain storms to harvest a late corn crop is no easy task. What slowed Tom Deutsch down long enough for an interview was a long line at the local grain elevator.

“The yield has been so good this year that we’re running out of storage,” Deutsch told The Catholic Post by cell phone, explaining that he needs the room so he can harvest the rest of his 500-acre crop.

The only thing that makes the long wait palatable is that it’s raining, so he doesn’t have to wonder how much he could be getting done in the fields if he wasn’t in line.

“Every day is a different challenge on the farm. You never know what you’re going to be into,” Deutsch told The Post. “One day you’re a mechanic and the next day you’re back in the combine. There’s nothing too boring about it.”

For their commitment to living out their faith in the rural community “in an exemplary and responsible manner,” Tom and Julia Deutsch have been chosen to receive the St. Isidore Award, given annually at the Diocesan Harvest Mass. Members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Galesburg, they were nominated for the award by their pastor, Father Ernie Pizzamiglio.

The Deutsches are among 18 individuals, couples and families who will be honored at the Harvest Mass, which is planned for Sunday, Nov. 23, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will celebrate the 10:30 a.m. liturgy.

While Tom doesn’t own the 1,000 acres he’s been working for nearly 31 years — half of it corn, half of it soybeans — he cares for it as if it were. One of the reasons Father Pizzamiglio nominated the Deutsches for the St. Isidore Award is because they practice conservation farming.

“They try to put something back to help offset what is taken from the land that God has given us to take care of,” Father Pizzamiglio said.

They both admitted to being humbled by Father Pizzamiglio’s nomination for the St. Isidore Award.

“My first response was, ‘There are so many other farmers out there who are deserving of this award,'” Tom said. “I told him I didn’t feel like I do enough at the parish to be eligible for it. Father said, ‘What else could you be doing?'”

They are just doing what they love, Julia said, noting that farming is a way of life that allows her to feel closer to God.

“You’re working with the earth and growing food — you’re making a difference,” she said.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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