Farm work part of religious life for nuns

Posted by Katie Loftus
Wednesday 14, January 2015 | Category:   Catholic culture,Clergy
Nuns work on ranch
Benedictine nuns at the Abbey of St. Walburga raise cattle, water buffalo, llamas, chickens, and bees.
A few miles south of the Colorado-Wyoming boarder, Benedictine nuns at the Abbey of St. Walburga raise cattle, water buffalo, llamas, chickens, and bees. Sister Maria Walburga Schortemeyer runs the abbey’s ranch, while other nuns volunteer their time to feed and milk the various animals.

The nuns sell the natural beef—mostly to those looking for organic, cruelty-free food. “We have kind of a corner on the market," Schortemeyer says. "People just kind of believe in it."

They have sold their all-natural beef for about seven years, and sell out of their product regularly. "We always have a waiting list for the beef," Schortemeyer says.

While this may seem like an unusual way of life for nuns, the bond between agriculture and religious orders dates back centuries, when monasteries were self-sustaining. While they have received their fair share of criticism, the nuns feel that the farm connects them to the outside world.

Schortemeyer, especially, feels the farm work is invaluable to the religious work of her fellow sisters. “[The ranch shows] we're not above and beyond," she says. "It's good to be at the mercy of the environment, and so that other people know we don't live some ethereal life.”


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