Sometimes the Catholic Church is most visible in our towns and cities yet many Catholics in England and Wales attend rural parishes or urban parishes with large rural areas.
Over a decade ago, two priests with years of experience serving in rural parishes made a concerted effort to build a network of people in our dioceses with an interest and concern for rural matters.
Fr Robert Miller and Fr Harry Doyle started a Working Group on Rural Issues – a group that is part of the national structure of the Church (Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales).
Although the focus often falls on agriculture, rural ministry encounters many challenges from flooding and diseases that threaten animals and food supplies to the plight of rural migrant workers and Single Farm Payment registration for diocesan-owned farms.
The Working Group on Rural Issues organises an annual conference to closely and proactively examine these and other issues.
The 2017 Conference took place in Salisbury in February 2017.
The bishop with responsibility for rural affairs is the Rt Rev Seamus Cunningham, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.
If you are a rural Catholic, or your urban parish includes large rural areas, you may like to know more about our ministry. You can contact either of the two clergy who serve Bishop Cunningham and the Bishops’ Conference.