A Letter About New Life From James

Spring has finally sprung in Minnesota and there are signs of new life all around. Birds are
singing, trees and flowers are blooming, and farmers are champing at the bit to get out into
their fields. I love how nature reflects the truths of God, and we are reminded every year
through the cycle of nature, the beauty and majesty of a new spring. In the past six months,
my wife, Sally, and I, have also had the privilege of welcoming two grandchildren into our
lives, James (6 months old) and Julia (10 weeks old). The preciousness of newborn babes
and seeing them begin to experience a new world is so awesome.

Just as in nature, so in our own spiritual lives, we are asked by the Lord to walk through
various seasons in our lives. Sometimes there may be sickness or suffering, sometimes
even death of loved ones. Other times there may be long winters of coldness and feelings of
sadness or meaninglessness. And sometimes we may experience seasons of drought and
fruitlessness. But even these difficult seasons may have purposes in our lives that we may
never understand fully until we are with our Lord face-to-face. Spring is about new life. In
this Octave week of Easter, let us recall Saint Paul’s words, “If anyone is in Christ, he or she
is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold new things have come.” Like fresh sap
running through maple trees in spring, the sap of the Holy Spirit can renew us in Christ and
help us to bear new fruit in any season of our lives. I give thanks to God for each one you.
May each of you experience a renewing in Christ that bears fruit in your life no matter what
season you are walking through.
James Ennis
Executive Director
April Blessing

Our health and in reality, our very lives, depend on the sprouting of seeds. The planting of seeds and nurturing them to grow to harvest is an act of cooperation with our Creator. We receive God’s choicest blessings when we break from our labors and enjoy a simple meal. Saving some of the new seeds allows us to continue this miraculous cycle of nature.
In addition to the soil, seeds need fresh water to grow. The cycle of rain blesses us, and water stored in the ground is a treasure. We seek God’s guidance in finding ways to better utilize seeds and water so that farming can become more sustainable for all who find their vocation in the land.

Opening Prayer
Let us pray: God, who created everything and everyone, we ask you to be with us now in this place. Send your Holy Spirit upon us that we might pray well and bless your name. Help us to care for “the seeds which are the Word of God,” the living words your Son shares with us. Let the hard work of sowing and tending be crowned with an abundance of life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Canticle of Praise (said by all): Psalm 126:1-6 (A Song of Ascents)
They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their harvest of grain.
When the LORD restored the captives of Zion,
we thought we were dreaming.
Then our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.

They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their harvest of grain.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord had done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
Oh, how happy we were!

They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their harvest of grain.
Restore again our fortunes, Lord,
like the dry stream beds of seasonal rivers.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with cries of joy.

They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their harvest of grain.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with cries of joy,
carrying their harvest of grain.

Closing Blessing
Loving God, the Spirit of Life hovered over the waters and began the great work of creation. Bless the waters of this earth. Let them fall again from the sky at the proper times so that our gardens and fields may yield abundantly, and all growing things may thrive. Bless also these seeds, pregnant with life. They show us the Easter mystery of new life coming from death and burial. May they burst forth soon with verdant growth from earth, rain and sun. You have called us to the honored task of being workers in your garden. Through the rain and these seeds, bring us to a new awareness of your presence in and around us, as we joyfully live in the knowledge of eternal resurrection. Plant seeds of love in our lives that will grow through the years, watered by the tears of pain and sacrifice that come our way. Your Son showed us the way. We now ask your guidance to follow it well. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Magazine Membership Feature
You won’t want to miss CRL’s latest edition of our quarterly magazine, Food Security & the Farm Bill.

The Winter 2023 issue takes a look at the Farm Bill through a Catholic lens. Why should Catholics care about this piece of legislation? How should Catholics view the various programs in the bill? There is one article on the basic components of the Farm Bill and another on how the Farm Bill helps the international community. Of course, there is also an article on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), toward which goes the largest portion of Farm Bill funding.

If you missed our Winter 2023 magazine you can still order it online today and gain complete access to articles and resources. To learn more and place your order, visit https://catholicrurallife.org/magazine/.

Large but less than 5M
Have you ordered CRL’s Cooking for Christ: Your Kitchen Prayer Book? Our newest edition makes the perfect addition to your cookbook collection. Enjoy our Easter Cake Recipe below! For more recipes and to place your order, click here

Easter Cake
Severs about 6 to 8

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
3 ½ cups sifted all-purpose or whole wheat flour
4 tsps baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a tube pan, and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat the egg yolks, and fold them into the sugar mixture. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and set aside. Stir the milk into the shortening mixture alternating starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in the walnuts, and when well mixed, fold in the egg whites. Pour the batter into the tube pan.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until the cake is lightly browned and shrinks away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven, and invert the pan; let the cake cool for about an hour. Remove the cake from the pan, and when thoroughly cooled, frost with an icing, preferably nut flavored.
Recipe from CRL’s Cooking for Christ – Your Kitchen Prayerbook, (pg 106)
Catholic Viewpoints on a Government Program
In the current Farm Bill, just over three-quarters of funding is devoted to nutrition in the form of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Another 9% is set aside for crop insurance, 7% goes to commodities, and another 7% to conservation. The remaining 1% funds programs in horticulture, forestry, and rural development, among other things.
"At the end of the day, farming is a really risky occupation,” says Matt Perdue, Government Relations Director at North Dakota Farmers Union. “You have weather volatility, you have market volatility, and you have this really diverse array of producers across the country who don't have a lot of control over what the markets will do in any given year. So the farm safety net is critical to making sure that family farms and ranches can continue to survive when there are severe market downturns, when there are natural disasters. When we look at improving Farm Bill programs, it's always through the lens of: How do we ensure family farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to make it through tough times?”
Welcome to the New Bishops

Catholic Rural Life welcomes newly ordained Auxiliary Bishop Michael Izen from Fairmont Minnesota, to the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on April 11th.
Bishop Anthony C. Celino was ordained and installed March 31st, as the Auxiliary Bishop of El Paso. Catholic Rural Life offers our prayers for him and the diocese as he begins his new ministry.

Catholic Rural Life welcomes Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville who was installed March 29th as the new bishop in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Welcome to Louisiana!
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 Ministry retreat 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
  • Individual leadership development
  • Fraternity with other priests serving rural communities
  • Celebration of the sacraments

Retreats are 4 nights/5 days and up to 24 priests attend. Participants have different tenures and represent various age groups and dioceses across the globe. Participants are invited to attend webinars throughout the year to discuss specific issues particular to rural ministry.

Upcoming Retreat Dates:

  • 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
  • February 5-9th, 2024 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Venice, FL
  • June 17-21st, 2024 at Mount Angel Abbey in Saint Benedict, OR
  • October 7-11th, 2024 at St. Benedict's Abbey in Benet lake,

To register and learn more about the upcoming retreats click the button, below.
Blessing of the Seed and Soil Celebration – Davenport, IA
The Diocese of Davenport welcomes all who are interested to a Blessing of Seed and Soil celebration. Fr. Dan Dorau will say mass on Saturday, April 15th at 4 PM on the Pieper farm near Houghton, Iowa. The event is being hosted by St. James the Less and St. John’s parishes.
Rural Life Mass – Gagetown, MI

The Diocese of Saginaw will be hosting a Rural Life Mass on Saturday, May 20th at the Thumb Octagon Barn in Gagetown, MI.
Join CRL Today!
Members of the Catholic Rural Life community are helping to build the Church, a community of Catholics, in rural America. Our members live in rural and urban alike, in 43 states across America. When you join CRL, your support and participation help support our work in serving parishes, pastors, farmers, rural businesses, and families.

The 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.
  • CRL members gain 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

Most 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 lay leadership and participation. Thank you to all of our current members!!
2115 Summit Avenue
UST Mail Number 4080
St. Paul, MN 55105
(651) 444-8714