Thriving in Rural Ministry - Catholic Rural Life

Thriving in Rural Ministry

What is Thriving in Rural Ministry?

Thriving in Rural Ministry is CRL’s program for clergy formation and spiritual renewal in rural ministry.  It is specifically crafted to provide clergy with a renewed spiritual vision, share best practices, leadership development, an expanded understanding of integral ecology, and fraternity with other clergy serving rural communities.

The core of the program is a 5-day retreat which takes place three times a year in different regions of the country. The program also includes virtual follow-up sessions for retreat alumni, webinars, resources, workshops, and convocations for others outside of the retreat. Priests who have attended the retreats will have access to a web portal after their retreat ends, containing past presentations, videos, and resources about rural ministry.

Register for one of our upcoming retreats.


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Hear what attending priests share about their experience.


Priest Testimonials

Have questions about the program or retreats?


Frequently Asked Questions

Why focus on rural?

One of the trends we see in rural areas across the country is the increasing challenge for pastors covering multiple parishes over long distances. This trend has led to more pastors feeling more isolated and emotionally stretched. Pastors in rural communities, even those serving only one parish, have told us of their sense of isolation and their need of peer fellowship and fraternity to help them both overcome some of the unique challenges in pastoral ministry and to expand upon the many opportunities found in ministering in a rural setting.

CRL is creating a network of relationships with pastors serving rural communities who can encourage, sharpen and help one another.

What does a retreat consist of?

Each retreat will include:

  • Individual and communal prayer
  • Best practices shared among other priests serving in rural ministry
  • Presentations and workshops on known rural challenges and key priestly responsibilities
  • Pre-retreat self-assessment tool
  • Individual leadership development
  • Fraternity with other priests serving rural communities
  • Celebration of the sacraments

Retreats are four nights and five days and are hosted in a relaxing, retreat environment with 15-24 priests who either serve in a rural parish or anticipate doing so. Participants will be of various tenures and ages and will represent dioceses across the country.

After the retreat, all participants will be invited to meet virtually throughout the year via video conference to discuss specific issues particular to rural ministry. The virtual meetings continue the conversations begun on the retreat around best practices, pastoral leadership, and CRL’s vision for rural ministry.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please email Tim Streiff, Program Manager, at A special thank you to the Lilly Endowment for their generous support of this work.

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