||St. Lawrence Church in Jefferson is the site of one of the rural life listening sessions. (Catholic Herald photo/Kat Wagner)
MADISON -- Catholic Charities’ new Rural Life Office will be holding listening sessions throughout the 11 counties of the Diocese of Madison.
“It will be an opportunity to help address the needs with rural pastors and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the farm community,” said Brian Cain, executive director of Catholic Charities (CC).
Tom Nelson, coordinator of the CC Rural Life Office, said there is a great need “to listen across the 11 counties to the many concerns and challenges of farmers and farm families and all those who are impacted by the financial crisis across all segments of agriculture in our area.”
Need for food
With an ever-increasing worldwide need for food, Nelson said “it is alarming to watch the continuous eroding of our farming base across the bread/corn basket of our nation as farmers lose their family farms to financial failure, all the while being more productive than ever before.
“Obviously, something is completely wrong across the heartland of our nation,” observed Nelson, “and the first step seems to be taking the time and energy to be available to listen and gather the stories, concerns, and trials of those who perform the most basic and absolutely necessary voca tion to our world as providers of our ‘daily bread.’ Put quite simply, without farmers, we don’t eat.”
That’s why the Rural Life Office is calling its listening sessions “All Shall Eat.” The office hopes that the listening sessions will gather “good, hard data” on the concerns and needs of each area of the diocese and what Catholic Charities can do.
Providing service to rural areas
The listening sessions should help CC in the development of direct service options attuned to the direct and real needs of the rural communities, said Nelson.
“The process of gathering and assessing the needs will allow Catholic Charities to explore new opportunities to provide direct service to struggling individuals and families across our rural landscape and provide new networking possibilities for greater partnerships with other faith communities and agencies of relief.
“The information gathered will also help to educate our non-rural communities to the dangers of losing our farmers and what they as consumers can actively do to promote and support local farm production by their commitment to purchase local food,” said Nelson.
Nelson is especially concerned about the impact of recent storms on farms and parishes in Grant and Lafayette Counties. Hail and heavy rains have damaged buildings and ruined farm crops. “It will affect farmers and farm prices,” observed Nelson.
Diocesan Rural Life Mass
As a culmination of the listening sessions, a Diocesan Rural Life Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Robert C. Morlino on Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Church in Truman in Lafayette.
For more information on the listening sessions, contact Tom Nelson at 608-821-3104 or
'All Shall Eat' Listening Session Schedule
Following are the listening sessions by county with the host pastor, parish, date, and time of each session.
Fr. John Hedrick, St. Mary of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, Pardeeville
Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Dane County (South):
Fr. Ken Klink, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Belleville
Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Grant County (North):
Fr. Rob Butz, St. John the Baptist Parish, Muscoda
Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Grant County (South):
Fr. Bernie Rott, Holy Ghost Parish, Dickeyville
Thursday, Sept. 17, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Fr. Michael Klarer, St. Victor Parish, Monroe
Thursday, Oct. 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Green Lake County:
Fr. John Hedrick, St. Mary Parish, Kingston
Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Fr. Ken Frisch, SS. Anthony and Philip Parish, Highland
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Fr. Tom Coyle, St. Lawrence Parish, Jefferson
Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Fr. Monte Robinson, Immaculate Conception Parish, Truman
Thursday, Sept. 24, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Fr. Michael Richel, St. John the Baptist, Montello
Thursday, Oct. 1, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Fr. Steve Umhoefer, Nativity of Mary Parish, Janesville (at Nativity House)
Monday, Sept. 21, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Fr. Kevin Dooley, St. Augustine Parish, Footville
Wednesday, Sept. 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Fr. Lorin Bowens, St. Patrick Parish, Loreto
Thursday, Oct. 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.