February 27, 2012

Catholics are at risk of losing their connection to the land, according to a professor from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.

"There are 244 Catholic degree-granting institutions in the United States, and not one of them offers an undergraduate degree program in agriculture," said Christopher Thompson, academic dean at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, which is housed at the university.

In the classes he has taught over the years, he said he was baffled by his students' seeming ignorance of even some of the basics.

Thompson said one student asked him what a kingfisher was. (It is a bird.)

Another student asked what an aspen was. (It is a tree.)

A student from Los Angeles, after going on a Thompson-led weekend retreat that visited three farms in Minnesota, remarked: "I didn't know they raised animals in Minnesota."

Another student told the professor, "I've heard that sap from maple trees is poisonous." (No; it is used to make maple syrup.)

Yet another student asked, "Is it safe to put rainwater on a garden?"