Catholic Rural Life grant to help country parishes in archdiocese

| February 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

A five-year, $1 million grant for Catholic Rural Life will offer pastors at rural parishes an opportunity to strengthen evangelization and other outreach, while developing support networks in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and around the country.

The grant will help CRL, a St. Paul-based nonprofit supporting rural communities nationwide, offer quarterly retreats where priests can explore best practices in rural parish ministry and ways to support each other. As part of the grant, CRL is conducting a nationwide survey to gather information that will help develop the retreats, said Jim Ennis, CRL’s executive director.

“The purpose of the program is to bring exemplary models of rural ministry to a retreat setting and have priests who are serving in a rural community share with priests who are out covering multiple parishes,” he said.

The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul will host the first retreat on a fall date to be determined. CRL will have four retreats in 2020 in different regions of the country.  CRL also plans to form networks of priests who can support one another. The organization hopes to develop a sustainable retreat and follow-up program that will last beyond the grant years, Ennis said.

CRL has learned through its research that “many of the priests who are serving rural communities are serving multiple parishes and are feeling very stretched.” They would “love to network with others who are experiencing the same challenges they are,” Ennis said.

The grant came from the Lily Endowment, an Indianapolis-based philanthropic foundation, which supports religion, education and community development. CRL entered a pool of more than 600 applicants for the grant and is one of 78 recipients, Ennis said.

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