Thriving in Rural Ministry - Catholic Rural Life

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.

Why focus on rural?

Rural ministry takes a unique approach to be successful. There is a need for an approach tailored specifically to rural parishes. Catholic Rural Life has spoken with hundreds of rural pastors and has responded to their increasing challenges of covering multiple parishes over long distances, the feelings of isolation, and the difficulties of responding to the specific needs of their rural communities.  

Thriving in Rural Ministry has been specially designed to respond to the needs of rural pastors and build a network of priests across the country 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
  • 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 up to 24 priests who either serve in a rural parish or anticipate doing so. Participants are 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, ongoing issues particular to their 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, Inc. for their generous support of this work.

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