Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry

Educational, Spiritual, Community Resource

As part of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Campus and one of the ministries of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry sits atop Good Counsel Hill in Mankato, Minnesota, where it serves as an educational, spiritual, and community resource for the surrounding land and people.

The Center promotes and fosters awareness and ways of living that recognize and support the interconnection and interdependence of all life. In embracing people of all spiritual paths, the Center strives toward earth justice and sustainability through education, spirituality, sustainable agriculture, rural ministry, and political advocacy. One of the purposes of the Center is to model environmental stewardship on the SSND land itself through ecological awareness, ecosystem restoration, support of local food production, and environmentally sensitive maintenance practices.
View a brochure on water here.

In addition to an environmental education and resource center, the Center hosts a two-acre organic community garden that is tended by sisters and staff, as well as immigrants and low- to moderate-income people from the area. Through retreats, discussion groups, community events and advocacy efforts based on the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the Universe Story, the center aims to recognize the sacred all around us.

Agricultural Roots in Mankato

For about 60 years, until the end of the 1970s, the SSNDs in Mankato had among their ministries, a working farm that supplied meat, dairy, eggs, grain, and produce for the sisters and students who lived there. Due to a variety of social and economic changes and the industrialization of agriculture in the United States, this farm ministry was discontinued by the end of the 1970s.

After the farm crisis in the 1980s, however, a renewed interest in small-scale, sustainable agriculture emerged eventually leading to the founding of the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry. The Center was founded in 1996 as a response to both the pressing concerns of rural people and the emerging environmental awareness of the sisters themselves. The center continues to promote the health and sustainability of rural communities. Read an interview with former CESRM co-director, S. Kathleen Kiemen here.


Volunteer opportunities abound at the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry and allow volunteers to grow in knowledge of earth spirituality as well as spend time within the beautiful environment of Good Counsel Hill.

From planting, maintaining and harvesting vegetables for the organic food shelf garden to updating library resources and office files to assisting with events or offering workshops on a variety of topics, there is something for everyone with any level of skill or expertise. Volunteers can donate time year-round, for a short period, seasonally or for a one-time event. Arrangements can be made for groups under 18 years of age.

View the Center for Earth Spirituality and Earth Ministry brochure here or visit their Facebook page.

For more information or to volunteer contact Laura Peterson at 507-389-4272.