Sometimes a move occurs not because of any deficiency in the current location, but because of the incredible
opportunities present in a new setting.
That’s the logic behind CRL’s relocation to St. Paul, Minn., which becomes official at the end of this week.
“St. Paul is really the perfect place for an organization such as ours to be based,” said CRL executive director Jim Ennis. “There are just incredible opportunities and resources available that will allow CRL to carry out its mission of applying the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church to the countryside in an even more impactful way.”
CRL will be working from the campus of the University of St. Thomas (UST), located on the banks of the Mississippi in west St. Paul. The close relationship with UST, the largest Catholic university in Minnesota, will give CRL access to vital resources ranging from university printing and mailing services to affordable venues for hosting large gatherings, such as The Faith, Food, and the Environment Symposium, which will be held at UST in early November.
Ennis also underscored the significance of being in close proximity to Catholic academics and experts who teach at UST and the neighboring St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity.
“We’re very fortunate to be able to build close relationships with scholars who are national leaders in exploring the connection between the environment, Catholic Social Teaching, and lay leadership,” he said, highlighting professors such as Dr. Christopher Thompson, an expert on the connection between environment and morality. “These are people whose work resonates strongly with CRL, and they’ll be able to provide an infusion of intellectual heft to make our message even more compelling.”
The presence of CRL on a college campus populated with future leaders is another positive that Ennis pointed out. He said that CRL’s new location will allow the organization to reach out directly to a new generation of bright and engaged Catholics, making them aware of the Church’s rich history in the countryside and the importance of ensuring its vitality today. Ennis said this aspect of CRL’s new location is already paying off in a noticeable way, as interns from the UST student body make significant contributions to CRL’s work day in and day out.
“Being located on a college campus gives us access to young talent who aid in our work today, but, more importantly, it connects us with the people who will really play important roles in the future of our Church and our organization,” he said. “It also gives students, undergraduate and graduate, an opportunity to apply what they are learning to real world problems.”
While the move to St. Paul is a very forward-thinking one, Ennis also said it has symbolic and historical significance as well.
“Archbishop Edwin V. O’Hara, who founded Catholic Rural Life in 1923, was a Minnesota native and attended seminary here at Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity,” he explained. “Archbishop O’Hara was an incredible leader who was absolutely dedicated to the spiritual health of rural Catholics, so we like to think this move is also about tapping into our organization’s roots, and recommitting ourselves to the Church in the countryside.”
Ennis also emphasized that CRL is “grateful and indebted” to the Diocese of Des Moines, where the organization was based for the past 74 years.
“The people of Des Moines and Iowa have been nothing but wonderful to CRL ,” he said. “The importance of our relationship with the people of that diocese and state is second to none, and we look forward to carrying out our mission and maintaining close ties with the Hawkeye State, just from a few hours north.”
With CRL’s move being official at the end of this week, Ennis said the CRL network should familiarize itself with the organization’s new address and contact info. Ennis added that CRL will be happy to answer any questions about the organization’s move.
“It’s a change in address, but really, this move is a reaffirmation of our commitment to our mission, and represents an opportunity to carry it out with greater impact and reach,” Ennis said. “It’s an exciting time to be dedicated to the Church in the countryside, and we’re looking forward to doing so from St. Paul.”