‘Nuns on the Ranch’

At the Abbey of St. Walbruga, nuns unite farm work with prayer. The Benedictine nuns at the abbey are carrying on a long tradition of combining agricultural practices with spiritual practices. Many are familiar with the breweries run by Trappist monks. The sisters at the Abbey of St. Walbruga raise cattle, water buffalo, and llamas.

They embody a deep spiritual connection between the land, their food, and their faith. In the words of Sister Maria-Walburga Schortemeyer:

“When our neighbors are suffering from drought or suffering from flooding, we can totally relate to them. We’re not above and beyond. … It’s good to be at the mercy of the environment, and so that other people know we don’t live some ethereal life.” 

“Praying with the scriptures is like chewing your cud. So all through the day, we’re ruminating on it. We chew, chew, chew, swallow, regurgitate. So it’s not just ‘the Lord is my shepherd,’ it’s ‘the Lord is my cowboy.’ “

Share this story of the nuns of the Abbey of St. Walbruga and talk about the connections between faith and agriculture with young adults:

  • What connections do you see between faith practices and agricultural practices — either mentioned in this story or some you think of on your own?
  • What connection to you fee with the earth or the land around you? What connection do you feel with your food? How does your faith affect what you eat?
  • What are some ways you might start to think about or practice deeper awareness of the physical world around you?