Each August, CRL and the Saint Paul Seminary team up to offer a Rural Ministry Practicum course to Theology II seminarian students. The purpose of the Practicum is to provide future priests with a new awareness of the rich and unique life that exists in rural communities. With the leadership of Jim Ennis, and CRL board member, Dr. Christopher Thompson, these aspiring priests engage in an intensive week examining various areas of rural life.
The week begins with classroom time that focuses on Catholic social teaching as it relates to agriculture, rural communities, and creation. Seminarians also became aware of the mission and history of CRL. Guest speakers provided additional perspective and insight into rural ministry from rural pastoring experience and Hispanic ministry. To cap the week, the Practicum participants take a short trek to a dairy farm to experience the rural setting. The week-long Practicum also provides group discussion, daily Mass, and personal reflection time.
Rural Ministry Practicum 2017 and 2019 Gallery
“The Rural Ministry Practicum was an eye and heart-opening experience for me in many ways. The Practicum helped me to realize the interdependent roles of priests and laity within rural ministry. Through the steadfast efforts of NCRLC (now CRL), thousands of lives have been positively impacted due to the valuable information that they have helped to promote and share about rural communities. I will be sure to utilize their excellent educational resources, God willing, in my future ministry.”
– James E. Peterson, 2011 Practicum
“I came to a deeper understanding of what it means for Catholics to respect the earth and the environment. It was good to be reminded that there is a balanced, responsible way to go about this, and that the Church is concerned about these issues.”
– Joah Ellis, 2011 Practicum
“Through the Rural Ministry Practicum, I have gained a wider vision of the beauty of creation and my role within it. I have learned that care of creation is essential to the life and vocation of the human person. I have learned that love for God and neighbor extends to our relationship with the natural world and the resources it provides. [Care of creation] is a beautiful way to serve our neighbors and to serve the generations to come. …This Rural Ministry program has revealed that, united in Christ, the priest and the lay person are not to be strangers; they are to be coworkers. As I anticipate a life of ministry in the Church, with the grace given by God, I shall strive to imitate the farmer. As the farmer labors to nourish our bodies with the fruits of the Earth, so the priest ought to labor for the nourishment of all souls.”
– Mitchell Bechtold, 2012 Practicum