Msgr. Mack named diocesan episcopal vicar for rural life

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has named Msgr. Thomas Mack to succeed Father Luke Spannagel as episcopal vicar for rural life, a position Father Spannagel has held for five years.

Msgr. Mack, raised on a family grain and hog farm in rural Reynolds, will continue as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Monmouth, and St. Patrick Parish, Raritan. He is also chaplain and director of the St. Augustine Newman Center at Monmouth College.

Msgr. Mack told The Catholic Post he hopes to meet with Bishop Jenky and the diocese’s Farmers Council soon to discuss ideas for promoting Catholic rural life, especially in light of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”

Among those ideas will be ways to recognize Catholic youth who participate in agriculture activities such as 4-H and the Future Farmers of America, perhaps similar to religious honors bestowed in Catholic Scouting. Msgr. Mack was active in both those organizations prior to entering the seminary. He also hopes to discuss pursuing greater agriculture education in Catholic schools so students “know where food comes from and the whole process.”

Father Spannagel, head chaplain at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois, will continue to write his “Chalices and Calluses” column for The Catholic Post.

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