In John’s gospel, Jesus seems to confirm the age-old proverb, that “one will sow and another will reap.” But in the case of Viatorian Associates Michael and Susan Bourgeois, who farm 1,000 acres of land in Kankakee County, they turned the tables on the adage.portrait-with-susan

After sowing his extensive corn and soybean crops last spring, members of the local farm community stepped up to help the Bourgeois couple reap their harvest during a difficult time for the family.fullsizerender

Earlier this month, a total of five combines and other assorted farm vehicles turned out to help clear the land. Members of this close farming community described it as something of paying it forward for a colleague who had served others in the region for years, though never seeking any attention.

Michael and Susan Bourgeois’ good deeds are no secret to the Viatorian Community, however. They both made their first commitments as associates in 2003, building on their involvement with Viatorians in St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee. Michael had served on the Parish Council and both had worked with young couples in the parish’s marriage preparation program.

In 2010, during the Provincial Assembly, the couple invited the nearly 100 members of the Viatorian Community to their farm for an opening barbeque, and in 2013, the couple made their definitive commitments as associates, making permanent their dedication to the Viatorian Community and its charism.five-combines_crop

“The Viatorian charism has fed me, grounded me and inspired me,” Susan Bourgeois said at the time.

Michael Bourgeois adds that lay people can add a different dimension to the religious community.

“As associates, we can offer the vowed another source of feedback,” he says, “and companionship that may not be available otherwise.”