Letter from James

This week marks the 4th week of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ and his coming into the world. I am grateful to the Church for giving us 4 weeks over Advent in which to prepare. The significance and the magnificence of this truth of Christ coming into the world to save us and to heal us, is profound. I especially appreciate meditating upon the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth and Joseph and Mary as both couples experienced the miraculous touch of God’s love in their lives. Imagine the weight they must have felt about their enormous responsibility before God to raise their respective child. Yet, they followed the call of God, and the graces of God were upon them. 

Our family just experienced the joy of celebrating the birth of our first grandchild, James Patrick Flynn. We are grateful for his life. I have been reminded once again how vulnerable and needy a baby is in the first weeks and months of life. We all need the graces of God to love and care for others, whether that is a newborn baby, or elderly parents nearing the end of their lives, or a spouse or friend who is suffering or terminally ill.

 May the Seasons of Advent and Christmas renew in each of you the love, peace and patience you need to face whatever challenges are before you. 

Merry Christmas from all of us at Catholic Rural Life. 
James Ennis
Executive Director
First Day of Winter Prayer

Christmas cheer is here! While we patiently wait for the birth of our savior this final week of advent, let us take a moment to stop, reflect, and pray together. “A Prayer in Winter” from the CRL Rural Life Prayerbook, is the perfect prayer to help center ourselves and reflect on the gifts we receive from the Lord. He is abundant, bountiful, and life giving, just like the fruits of our previous harvest.  
Let us pray together “A Prayer in Winter” from the CRL Rural Life Prayerbook: 
Dear Lord, the summer is over and gone, and the harvest is once more past. All the wealth and warmth of the summer sun is marvelously packaged now, in seed and fruit and vegetable, and stored away in bins and cribs and basements.

Thank You, dear, generous God, for all Your goodness and for all Your gifts. All summer long You are working for us, storing nourishment in the fields and woods. Now, when the air is cold, and there is no fruitfulness in the earth, we can live on what the summer and the harvest have stored for us. 

Thank You for Your kindness to us, dear God. Help us to make good use of the riches of the earth. Help us to be generous, even as You are, and always avoid selfishness and greed. 

Help us, too, to store up spiritual wealth in the summer of this life, while we can yet work. Otherwise life’s autumn will come, death will call us, a spiritual winter will set in and we shall be found poor and unsheltered not for one season, but for the winters of eternity. 

Lord, we trust in You, that, through Your many graces, we may make good use now of our rich opportunities. And may we then, reap a rich spiritual harvest which we will enjoy with You and Your saints in the eternal spring and summer of heaven. 

Catholic Social Ministry Gathering 2023

Register for the 2023 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering! “Blessed are the Peacemakers” (Mt 5:9) January 28 – 31, 2023, Washington D.C. 

Don’t miss this transformative annual gathering for leaders in Catholic social ministry and advocacy! In 2023, we will gather in-person to pray, learn, and advocate together to help heal a world broken by conflict, division, and inequality. 

For more than 30 years, the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) has brought together hundreds of current and emerging leaders in Catholic social ministry from across the United States. Together we address pressing current domestic and global challenges affecting our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. 

Don’t miss dynamic and thought-provoking presentations and workshops inviting us to work together as a church to think creatively and boldly about how we can create opportunities for healing and renewed engagement. Then, we will raise our voices in solidarity by advocating with our members of Congress.

The 2023 in-person gathering will include:
  • Inspiring voices in Church and society 
  • Workshops with policy experts and community leadersIntentional opportunities for best practice-sharing
  • Advocacy visits with elected officials 
  • And much more! 

Financial assistance is available for leaders from under-represented ethnic, cultural, or disability communities. The program at CSMG 2023 will also include offerings for Hispanic/Latino leaders who play an important role in creating disciples in their communities. Act now to be part of our special initiative for young leaders in Catholic social ministry and learn more about our Diversity Outreach Initiative. 

Join the discussion and be part of the solution! 
Cooking for Christ: Your Kitchen Prayer Book 
There is still time to order a copy of Cooking for Christ: Your Kitchen Prayer Book before Christmas arrives. This new edition is the perfect gift, tying beloved family recipes to the celebrations of the liturgical year. Our collection includes original recipes with new CRL member submissions from our friends around the United States. 

The Christmas spirit is in the air! Joy and laughter fill warm homes and kitchens as we prepare for and await the birth of our savior. Spend quality time with your loved ones this holiday season and bake one of our favorite CRL Dutch recipes,Rozijnen Koekjes (Raisin Cookies). We hope you love it as much as we do.  

For more recipes and to place your order in time for Christmas, click here

Rozijnen Koekjes (Raisin Cookies)

1 cup butter or vegetable shortening 
4 large eggs
5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups brown sugar 
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves 
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup soured milk
2 cups raisins 
½ cup chopped walnuts 

The recipe calls for using a cup of soured milk, and that is easy to make. Add 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to the cup of milk, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Then use in the recipe as called for.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Cream, butter, and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Sift together the flour with the spices. Add the sour milk alternately with sifted dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins and walnuts. Drop spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.
Magazine Membership 
You won’t want to miss CRL’s upcoming magazine. Consider subscribing and never miss another issue. Did you enjoy our Summer 2022 edition, The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader as much as we hoped you would?

Our last issue discussed agricultural work as a vocation, outside the traditional view of vocation related to either marriage or a religious life. This upcoming quarterly edition will explore how being a farmer or rancher is a distinct calling from God to work with Him in the garden of creation.
If you missed our summer magazine you can still order it online today and gain complete access to articles and resources. To learn more and place your order, please visit 
CRL Board Member Bishop Folda 
Catholic Rural Life is honored to have Bishop Folda join our Board of Directors. 

Bishop Folda grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after graduating high school in 1979 to study architecture and electrical engineering. Bishop Folda entered seminary formation for the Diocese of Lincoln in 1983 and attended St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia. He later graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. Bishop Folda continued his theological studies, earning a Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts in Theology at St. Charles Seminary.  
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln in 1989 by Bishop Glennon Patrick Flavin. In 1991, Bishop Folda was sent to Rome where he earned a licentiate in sacred theology at Pontifical University of St. Thomas. After returning to Lincoln, Bishop Folda served in various roles as an assigned pastor, educator, guidance counselor, and worked in the diocesan offices. He continues to serve in supplementary roles as vice president of the Board of Directors at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and as a member of the Nebraska Catholic Conference.

Bishop Folda was granted the great honor of being named "Chaplain of His Holiness" with the title of Monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI on October 10th, 2007. Pope Francis later appointed him as the 8thBishop of Fargo on April 8th, 2013. He was installed and ordained on June 19, 2013 at the Cathedral of St. Mary and continues to serve the diocese to this day. 
Thriving in Rural Ministry
Pastors who cover one or multiple parishes over a long distance can feel isolated and emotionally stretched. CRL works to create a network of support for pastors who serve rural communities to encourage and help one another fulfill the vocation of rural ministry. 

CRL’s Thriving in Rural Ministryretreat and follow-up program provides spiritual refreshment, rural insights, support, leadership development, an expanded understanding of integral ecology, and fraternity with other priests serving rural communities. CRL aims to renew rural pastors to help revitalize the communities they serve. 

Each retreat includes:
  • 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 4 nights/5 days and 15-24 priests attend. Participants have different tenures and represent various age groups and dioceses across the globe. Each cohort is invited to meet quarterly (via video conference) to discuss specific issues particular to rural ministry. 

Upcoming Retreat Dates:
  • February 13-17th, 2023 at the Holy Family Retreat Center in Beaumont, TX
  • June 12-16th, 2023 at Mount Angel Abbey in Saint Benedict, OR
  • October 9-13th, 2023 at Saint Benedict’s Abbey in Benet Lake, WI

To register and learn more about the upcoming retreats follow the button below.
Rural Life 2023 Essay & Drawing Contest
Rural Life 2023 Essay & Drawing Contest

From November 18th to February 14th the Diocese of Green Bay is hosting an essay and drawing contest for students in Grades 1-8. Participants are asked to create a picture or write an essay (200 words or less) on the topic: What are some of the “fruits” of God’s creation in rural life? 

Each entry must include name, address, grade and school/parish on the back of an 8.5 x 11 drawing or essay. Please submit your drawing or essay by Feb. 14, 2023. One entry per person. Categories will be: Grades 1-2, Grades 3-4, Grades 5-6, Grades 7-8.

To be eligible, you must be an active resident within the Diocese of Green Bay.
Green Bay Rural Life Scholarship
Don’t wait to apply for the Green Bay Rural Life Scholarship open from now until April 1st. The Rural Life Scholarship offered by the Rural Life Committee of the Diocese of Green Bay is a $500 scholarship to provide financial aid for an aspiring student interested in serving the agricultural community in their chosen profession. To qualify for this scholarship, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Be an active member in their parish community within the Diocese of Green Bay
  • Exhibit leadership qualities
  • Receive recommendation from pastor, pastoral leader, or religious education coordinator

To submit an application, either email materials to pweiss@gbdioc.org or mail to Diocese of Green Bay Attn. Rural Life 1825 Riverside Dr. P.O. Box 23825 Green Bay, WI 54305-3825

To be eligible, you must be an active high school senior within the Diocese of Green Bay.
The deadline to submit applications is April 1st, 2023.

For questions on how to apply, please contact Peter Weiss at (920) 272-8321 or pweiss@gbdioc.org
Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Event
Please join Catholics from across the country for the 2023 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering!
“Blessed are the Peacemakers” (Mt 5:9) January 28-31, 2023, Washington, D.C.

You won’t want to miss out on this engaging conference. Experience dynamic and thought-provoking presentations and workshops that will encourageattendees to work together as a Church communitybefore raising our voices, as one, with members of Congress.

The 2023in-person gathering will include:
  • Inspiring leading voices in Church and society 
  • Workshops with policy experts and community leaders
  • International opportunities for best practice-sharing 
  • Resources from dozens of Catholic social ministry organizations
  • Advocacy visits with elected officials 
  • And much more!

Financial assistance is available for leaders of under-represented ethical, cultural, or disability communities.
Consider Gifting a CRL Membership Today!
Are you still looking for the perfect last-minute gift? Give the gift of connection to rural communities with a CRL membership this holiday season! For just $50 per year, members receive exclusive perks and benefits.

Choose to build up the Church, community of Catholics, and rural America this Christmas by reaching members in rural and urban environments across 43 states. When you join CRL, your donation supports our work to serve parishes, pastors, farmers, rural businesses, and families.

Benefits of membership include:
  • Connection to a network of CRL members nationally praying and advocating for rural Catholics.
  • A one-year subscription to our quarterly Catholic Rural Life magazine. This includes a hard copy mailed to you as well as digital access to the most current issues.
  •  Exclusive access to resources that are not available to the general public on our website including:
  • Vocation of the Agricultural Leader
  • Printable Monthly Blessings
  • Video Webinars

More importantly, our members know they are helping to promote Catholic life in rural America by supporting priests who serve rural communities, equipping strong local CRL Chapters, advocating on behalf of family farms, and strengthening and celebrating lay leadership.
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