- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - The bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson led a Mass on Saturday for dozens of farmworkers on a Yuma produce field.

Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas has been celebrating special Masses for farmworkers in southern Arizona since 2010, but this was the first time he did so on a field. About 200 people showed up 10 a.m. at the Pasquinelli Produce Company field.

The bishop decided to preach from the field to be more accessible to the farmworkers, diocese spokeswoman Steff Koeneman said. Mass is typically held at 10 a.m., by which time the laborers have already gone to work, she said.

Kicanas said the Mass is a way of honoring farmworkers and their contributions to society.

“Farmworkers are men and women who do a great service for our country and for our communities by gathering the crops that find their way to our tables. They are workers who endure difficult circumstances and who engage in back-breaking work on our behalf,” he said in a statement to The Associated Press. “During the Mass it is obvious that faith matters to them and that it is the Lord who gives them hope and encouragement to do this difficult work for their families’ well-being.”

The Mass lasted for about an hour, organizer Teresita Kontos said. It has been a dream to bring the service to where people work, she said.

“We wanted the bishop’s message to land directly to the farmworkers,” Kontos said.

Kontos said past years have drawn more local community members than laborers because of the late morning hour but that this year the emphasis was placed on workers themselves.

“People want to go see the bishop,” she said. “The bishop brings people in.”

The first Mass that Kicanas hosted for farmworkers was in the Mexican border city of San Luis Río Colorado, about 25 miles south of Yuma.

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