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Rural Outreach and Ministry


"Challenges Lead to Renewal in Rural Ministry" - By James Ennis
10/19/2012
Every summer my family and I go camping to be renewed and re-energized in spirit by a fresh contact with God’s beautiful creation. This summer was no exception as we traveled to the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the beautiful shoreline of Lake Superior. One of the planned activities was an eight-mile round-trip hike to a pristine mounta   >> Read On

"Shades of Color in Rural Youth Ministry" - By Monica Heitman
10/17/2012
The picture of youth ministry in a rural area would be painted with the same colors as big city ministry, except the shading is just a little different.  I have lived in a rural, small town all of my life and have served as a youth minister for close to 20 years. One thing I’ve come to realize is that In rural areas a youth minister is often a volunteer. Those who   >> Read On

Women of Hope: Religious Sisters Bring Help & Hope to NW Pennsylvania
10/1/2012
Each ring of the phone has the potential to be a new adventure for two religious sisters living in northwestern Pennsylvania. “There’s no typical day because we don’t know exactly when the phone is going to ring or somebody wants this or that, or if we need to go out to the parishes,” said Sister Phyllis Schleicher, OSB.   Sister Phyl   >> Read On

"On a Mission: Reaching Catholics in Rural Utah" - by Michael Lee
8/22/2012
Most of us live within 15 to 20 minutes of a Catholic Church.  If we oversleep and miss the 8 a.m. Mass, we can attend the 10 a.m. Mass.  Or, if we don't like getting up early on Sunday morning, we can attend the vigil Mass on Saturday. Going to Mass is something most of us take for granted. Not so in rural Utah. In many of the rural areas of Utah, Catholic   >> Read On

Learn all about NCRLC's Lay Leadership Pilot Program
10/10/2012
  There are 51 million people living in rural communities throughout the United States. Slightly more than one-third of parishes are located in rural or “non-metropolitan” areas as designated by the U.S. Census. Many priests in rural communities are now ministering to two to four parishes, driving long distances to provide the sacraments to the faithful.   >> Read On

Totus Tuus: Totally Faithful, Totally Fun, Totally Yours
9/6/2012
Ann Gonyaw could sense her children’s growing excitement. 'Totus Tuus' Totus Tuus is Latin for “Totally Yours” and the papal motto of Blessed John Paul II. Taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary,” it represents the desire of the faithful to give themselves entirely to Jesus C   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: The Faith of Migrants" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
7/30/2012
For thirteen summers I have run summer First Communion programs for migrant farm worker children in Oregon and California. Each year, several Redemptorist seminarians and lay volunteers have accompanied me in orchards, vineyards, dairies and isolated communities, providing access to sacraments for children of migrants. This summer our Redemptorist summer migrant mission team   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Evangelization is Ministry, Not a Job" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
6/18/2012
Recently I celebrated my 65th birthday. I awoke to a variety of emails, most wishing me a happy birthday, but a few offering condolences at being so old. I realize that I acted the old man as I prepared my coffee and orange juice.  About six weeks prior to my birthday, I got a call from a "Retirement Specialist." She asked, "What do you hope to do in retireme   >> Read On

Practicum Students Ordained Transitional Deacons
5/7/2012
0 0 1 165 944 National Catholic Rural Life Conference 7 2 1107 14.0 Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE    >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Isolated Faith Communities in Rural America" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew, CSSR
4/27/2012
Comunidades Ecclesiales de Base (CEBs) Thinking outside of the Parish Model for Christian Community   When I meet a Catholic from my hometown, Omaha, Neb., it is common to ask the question, “What parish were you from?” My Catholic identity came from the fact that I was from Holy Name. It was my school, my church, my neighborhood, and my identity.   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Challenges in giving personal attention in ministry" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
4/2/2012
Fifty and sixty years ago the face of the “campesino” was identified with the “migrant” worker who followed the crops from the South to the North and back to the South. It was easy to identify the migrants. They worked the fields. They lived in groups at camp housing or in tent cities on farms. They were in a community for a specific period of time. W   >> Read On

Cesar Chavez Day, March 31
3/27/2012
  This Saturday, March 31, is Cesar Chavez Day and a time to remember those who work the fields and harvest many of our fruits and vegetables.   Cesar Chavez (1927-93) was a farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist. His non-violent organizing work led to growers recognizing the bargaining rights of farmworkers.   H   >> Read On

Sowing Seeds of Hope in a Distracted World, presentation by Jim Ennis
3/14/2012
"Sowing Seeds of Hope in a Distracted World"   Presentation by Jim Ennis (right), keynote speaker at the 2012 Bishop Lucker Lecture on Sunday evening, March 18, at St. Catherine's Church in Redwood Falls, Minn. (Lecture series sponsored annually by the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota)   NEW ULM – Rural life in the Uni   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: A migrant farm worker family story" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
2/9/2012
During the Christmas season, I met Abel and Maria (not their actual names). Their story is one so typical that I wish to give a glimpse of life for migrants. Their story is one of striving for a better life for their children and the difficulty of conveying dignity to their children. The Church can and should play a role in their lives, but often we miss the mark. The story    >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Our Lady of Guadalupe and Justice" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
12/15/2011
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Letter from Hispanic/Latino Bishops to Immigrants
12/14/2011
The nation's 33 Hispanic Roman Catholic Bishops have written a "letter to immigrants" stating that illegal immigrants deserve thanks from Americans and call for "denunciation of the forces which oppress them." In their letter, the bishops once again state their support for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants before. But this    >> Read On

Thanksgiving - 'Eating is a Moral Act'
12/8/2011
This article originally appeared in the November 17th issue of "The Catholic Times" by Bishop William Callahan, Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse and NCRLC Board Member.   One of the things I have learned as a bishop with a largely rural diocese is respect for those who work the land. Respect for farmers goes deep in our diocese. As I have celebrated Rural   >> Read On

Bishop Pates, NCRLC Board Member, elected chair of International Justice & Peace Committee
11/15/2011
(USCCB Press Release)   BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted for the secretary-elect of USCCB, the chairmen-elect of five committees and the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace at their annual Fall General Assembly, November 14.   The secretary-elect and chairmen-elect serve in that capacity    >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Human Dignity and the Campesino" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
11/14/2011
  As we approach the month of December, we enter a very special time for the faith of people from Latin America. The month begins with feasts of Mary, the Mother of God in the feast of Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The month continues with Posadas, preparing the way for the Birth of Jesus and then the celebration of Christ's birth. As weather    >> Read On

NCRLC & St. Paul Seminary Host Rural Ministry Practicum
10/4/2011
This past August, NCRLC and the Saint Paul Seminary teamed up, once again, to offer a Rural Ministry Practicum course to seminarian students.  With the leadership of Jim Ennis, and NCRLC board member, Dr. Christopher Thompson, these aspiring priests engaged in an intensive week examining various areas of rural life.   Initially, the group spent so   >> Read On

"Labor Day: To Earn Our Livelihoods" - Fr. John Rausch
9/29/2011
This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, one of the worst industrial accidents in U.S. history. In 1911, on a Saturday afternoon when workers began thinking about their Sunday off, a fire started on the eighth floor of the ten-story Asch Building in Manhattan where the Triangle Company occupied the top three floors with 500 workers.   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Migration Issues Complicate Farm Worker Ministry" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
9/15/2011
President Obama has announced administrative changes in deportation policy for those undocumented who do not present a danger to American society. The changes are good news for families being separated by present practices and for students who have lived most of their lives in this country. Yet the changes only apply to the small percentage of people who are caught in the we   >> Read On

USCCB Report on the Debt Ceiling Debate: Little Concern for the Least Among Us
8/4/2011
The debt ceiling debate demonstrated the partisan, ideological, and dysfunctional polarization that dominates Washington. While the crisis of default was averted, this political spectacle was disappointing, ominous, and just a beginning. As advocates of poor and vulnerable people, people of faith are greatly concerned for their future.   There is good news:   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: 'Bad rap' for workers and farmers" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
7/25/2011
A farmer said, "Father, farmers get a bad rap..." A union organizer said, "Migrant workers get a bad rap..." An OSHA representative said, "We get a bad rap from both the farmer and the worker..." Good people in all walks of life have suffered from the "bad rap." Exploitation and inappropriate activities by a few make life hard for those striving to do good in their lives. Sc   >> Read On

Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis holds Rural Life Sunday
7/7/2011
About 300 people attended the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis' Rural Life Sunday, June 26, at the Gergan Farm near Hastings, Minn. Bishop Lee Piché was the main celebrant of the Mass, followed by a picnic and games for the children. NCRLC executive director, Jim Ennis, also attended the event.

"Campesino Ministry: Barriers to sacramental reception for campesinos"- by Fr. Mike McAndrew
6/27/2011
A migrant farm worker said, "Reglas de la iglesia aquí nos niegan la gracia de los sacramentos." (Rules of the Church here deny us the grace of the sacraments.) It was the summer of 2007, I had been working with farm workers for about eight years when I heard these words. The campesino was speaking of barriers that people encounter for their children to be baptized or   >> Read On

Archbishop Dolan on Subsidiarity and Solidarity
5/26/2011
A couple of months ago, the bishops of the state of New York enjoyed a working luncheon with our new governor.  It was a productive and enlightening visit. At the conclusion, Governor Andrew Cuomo made an observation that has stuck with me.  He commented:  “Most people who come to see me lobby on behalf of their own needs, their own group, or their   >> Read On

The Federal Budget Reflects Our Values
5/23/2011
by Fr. John S. Rausch Last February when the U.S. Catholic bishops wanted to underscore the morality involved in budget priorities, they asked Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire to write members of Congress. “On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” he wrote as chairman of their Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, “w   >> Read On

"Good News in Priestly Formation" - by Dr. Christopher Thompson
5/16/2011
The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education may soon become a “silent partner” in the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.  Okay, not really. But it was still pleasing for this academic to read of their recent announcement1 to increase the amount of  philosophical formation required of students receiving a degree in   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Following the harvest – La Corrida (The Circuit)" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
4/20/2011
Fourteen years ago I was introduced to migrant workers in The Dalles, Ore., during the cherry harvest. The harvest brings over 6,000 workers to the area for a period of four to eight weeks. Many of the workers come to The Dalles after the harvest winds down in Stockton, Calif. After the harvest in Oregon they move on to Washington, Montana and Idaho for more cherries or begi   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: Summer programs for children" - by Fr. Mike McAndrew
3/22/2011
It is appropriate that at this time of year I address a need to offer alternative programs of preparation for the sacraments for those unable to attend the ordinary programs of sacramental preparation offered in many parishes. The migrant farm worker is not the only one who needs this consideration, but their particular way of life illustrates the challenges some people face   >> Read On

"Campesino Ministry: A Heritage of Faith, Inculturated Evangelization" by Fr. Mike McAndrew
2/28/2011
The classic image of farm worker ministry can be experienced in the celebration of Mass in the fields with workers and their families gathered around a table decorated with images of Christ and the Virgin. There are flowers and candles. Sometimes the campesinos prepare the space as though it was an outdoor cathedral. There tends to be a solemnity based on the gratitude of th   >> Read On

Catholics Call on Congress to Protect Poor and Vulnerable
2/21/2011
In February, more than 300 Catholic social ministry leaders from around the country visited Capitol Hill to speak out for social justice and the dignity of the poor and vulnerable. NCRLC was proud to be part of this Catholic gathering and we continue to join efforts and raise our voice by contacting our U.S. Representatives and Senators with this message: “Do not mak   >> Read On

"Spirituality of the Campesino" by Fr. Mike McAndrew
1/20/2011
(Printer-friendly version)    Last month I wrote an introduction to Campesino ministry, our Church’s outreach to the agricultural workers in the United States. In this article I hope to give a glimpse into the people about whom much of the political debate on immigration swirls. The people about whom I speak are Hispanic. They comprise both American c   >> Read On

International Women's Day Initiative 2011
1/11/2011
To celebrate and honor women, Oxfam America is organizing events nation-wide that highlight the critical role that women everywhere play in feeding the world. The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is supporting this initiative and encouraging our network members to participate or to organize their own local events.   The cornerstone of this initi   >> Read On

"An Introduction to Campesino Ministry" by Fr. Mike McAndrew
12/30/2010
    The word “campesino” calls attention to a ministry that focuses on the Hispanic farm worker. “Campesino” simply means a person of the fields, one who works the earth. It includes all those involved in agriculture. While for many the term “campesino ministry” has focused on the migratory worker, the ministry must be mo   >> Read On

Fresno bishop passes away
12/16/2010
Bishop John T. Steinbock, Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, passed into eternal glory at 3:10 a.m. Sunday, December 5, 2010. He was surrounded by family, his pastor, and friends. The bishop was laid to rest on Dec. 14, at St. Peter's Cemetery in Fresno following a Mass of Burial at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Fresno. Thousands of people turn   >> Read On

Project with CCHD advances
12/15/2010
NCRLC’s program with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) to increase the number of fundable CCHD grant applications from rural communities is off and running. NCRLC is providing a consulting assistance role for groups in rural communities who want to apply for CCHD funds. Our focus is especially in dioceses with high rates of poverty and unemployment.    >> Read On

Protect dignity of workers, says USCCB Labor Day 2010 statement
9/2/2010
As our nation celebrates Labor Day this Monday, September 6, 2010, recommended reading should be the Labor Day Statement by Bishop William F. Murphy, Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. In "A New'Social Contract' for Today's 'New Things,'" where Bishop Murphy remembered the millions of American   >> Read On

Board Member Leaves Mark on NCRLC
8/13/2010
After nearly two decades on the NCRLC board of directors, there’s no doubt that rural ministry is in Sister Christine Pratt’s blood. “I’ve always had a love for the land and for nature,” the Ursaline sister from Brown County, Ohio, said. “I always loved the concept and idea of a farm.” Sister Christine first joined the board in 19   >> Read On

Celebrate 100 years of Diocesan and Farming History in Toledo
8/12/2010
Applications for the Century Farm Awards are now being accepted in the Diocese of Toledo. Applicants should submit copies of old deeds, titles, or parish or family religious records indicating exact date to support claims. The information must show family residence and ownership of a farm for at least 100 years. Name, address, phone number, parish and deanery must accompany ver   >> Read On

New Board Members Join NCRLC
8/10/2010
Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, is one of he newest members to join the NCRLC Board.   Kraska grew up in Prior Lake, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. She attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., where she graduated with a double major in Catholic studies and theology. She continued her graduate studies a   >> Read On

USCCB Web Resource on Immigration
5/28/2010
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Migration and Refugee Services has partnered with Catholic University of America to develop the "U.S. Catholic Bishops and Immigration" website. The website highlights the role of the U.S. Catholic bishops and the Church in our nation's experience of immigration and the Church's involvement in shaping immigration policy. Le   >> Read On