How does faith inform agricultural business decisions in our everyday lives? CRL is presenting Vocation of the Agricultural Leader workshops and presentations around the country to address the many ethical questions agricultural and food leaders face every day. If your diocese, parish, university or community is interested in hosting a Vocation of the Agricultural workshop or presentation, please contact Annie Brickweg at Annie@catholicrurallife.org
Over the past three years Catholic Rural Life has worked with farmers, theologians, scientists and others involved in food production and caring for the land across the US and internationally to develop a resource entitled Vocation of the Agricultural Leader. The initiative was inspired by the publication of the Vocation of the Business Leader published in 2012 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Council, introduced the document at the Fourth World Congress in Rome in which CRL Executive Director Jim Ennis was a participant.
After his eminence’s presentation, Ennis came up to the Cardinal and said, “I think we need a document on the Vocation of the Agricultural Leader.” Cardinal Turksonlooked at Ennis with a smile and said, “You do it!”
Dr. Christopher Thompson, Moral Theologian at the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity and board member of Catholic Rural Life was participating in the same meeting and heard the Cardinal’s challenge. Both agreed the gauntlet had been laid down. Although the task seemed daunting, they took a step of faith and said, “Yes!”
At the same meeting in Rome in June 2012, Ennis was elected President of the International Catholic Rural Association (ICRA), a Catholic nongovernmental membership-based organization headquartered in Rome with vice presidents representing Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and North America. The timing of this election was providential. In 2013, after presentations of the project proposal to develop a resource entitled Vocation of the Agricultural Leader, approval was received from the governing boards of ICRA, CRL, and FUE, and the leadership of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to begin the planning of two symposiums—one national (2014) and one international (2015)—to get input from experts throughout the US and around the world. This endeavor also required financial support from several co- sponsors including Farmers Union Enterprises, Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, the University of St. Thomas (UST), the Center for Catholic Studies at UST, and private donors.
Farming is not easy work. Farmers face the challenges of the natural elements, a changing climate, global competition, and constant pressure to make a living while being good stewards of the natural resources. There is a great need for ethical leadership in addressing these challenges. In Pope Francis’ teaching letter entitled Laudato Si’ (Praise Be) — In Care of Our Common Home, he calls for those involved in agricultural production to examine a more sustainable approach and to enter into a dialogue with the various stakeholders in farming and food production.
The ecumenical team CRL collaborated with has responded to that call. The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader project’s objectives were three-fold: 1. to affirm the noble and dignified vocation of farming and of the work of men and women involved in agricultural production and get- ting food to our tables; 2. to retrieve the notion of vocation, that farming is not just an occupation, but a calling from our Creator to a relationship and to till and to keep the earth; and 3. to inspire future generations of men and women to see how their faith informs both their work in agriculture and their stewardship of God’s creation.
Catholic Rural Life is very proud to announce the first edition of Vocation of the Agricultural Leader is now completed and published. You can read it in its entirety here. Hard copies are available for purchase at our online store.
CRL has begun conducting workshops around the country on this important document. If you would like us to come to your event to present the Vocation of the Agricultural Leader, please contact us here.