It is an honor to be a member of this storied rural Catholic organization and have the opportunity to share my thoughts with fellow members and visitors to this Blog spot.
I believe there is an impending crisis in the rural environs of America. This crisis is not based on where we are in the country or what we have been, but rather in what we could lose. Let me explain.
Over these past 30 years my work with Catholic United Financial has allowed me to travel the rural areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas. While visiting with farmers, ranchers, gardeners and tillers of the soil, it has become clear that there is a segment of our society that has a special gift we “town folks” are missing.
I am not sure it can be summed up in one or two words, but it is there and it is real. When visiting rural families, braking bread, singing and praying with these fellow Christians, you can feel the passion in their words, actions and voices. To use a phrase I often hear the young say these days: “They get it”.
Sure they have cable TV, cell phones, the internet and all the various forms of communications the city folks have, but they have something more. I think the best way to describe it is to say they have dirt in their blood.
They understand creation in a deeper sense than the rest of us could ever know. They are surrounded by Gods gifts. Tilling the soil, they participate in the miracle of creating the food that sustains us all. It’s hard to put into words, but if you have ever attended a harvest Mass or participated in evening prayer and celebration in the countryside, you’ll know. You’ll long to return, you’ll want more.
Catholic Rural life is charged with sustaining the rural way of life by bringing parishioners together through priests and religious who understand the gifts these people carry within them.
To quote our Board President, Most Rev. Paul Etienne, Bishop of Cheyenne: “The need to train and equip rural lay leaders for the new evangelization has never been greater.”
We need to preserve the rural way of life that built this nation and our Church. We must preserve these gifts before they are lost and must be reconstructed by a future generation. The use of the gifts of creation brings us into a closer communion with our Lord. This we cannot lose.
May the Lord bless you in every way.
Michael McGovern, retired Chairman and President of Catholic United Financial, is a board member of Catholic Rural Life. He serves on our Tillers of the Earth capital campaign committee, which oversees our Sowing Seeds Campaign to Renew Catholic Faith in Rural America.