Catholic agrarian club helps students reconnect with creation

Estelle Mandeville
Staff Writer

A new club focused on fostering an authentic agrarian lifestyle has taken off on campus and has become the fastest growing student club, with over 100 members joining in its first semester.

Centered around a return to reality, the Catholic Agrarian Club aims to reconnect students with creation and human labor, as well as healthy community and fellowship.

The idea for the club came from seniors Nathan Ware and Kaleena Montez’s Center for Leadership project, which was the construction of a garden on campus.

Without the Catholic Agrarian Club to continue its maintenance, the garden Ware and Montez built would die. Ware and Montez wanted to save it, so they decided to create the Catholic Agrarian Club, along with Montez’s fiancé senior John Paul Anthony.

Anthony, president of the club, said the focus is on “everything involved in the agrarian lifestyle.” This includes the gardening and the club’s public events.

Anthony and Montez toured several homesteads last semester and enjoyed the simplicity of the lifestyle. They wanted to share it with other students so they could also experience that way of life, which is different from the typical, modern, complicated American way of life.

Because of this, the club plans to lead homestead tours to show students what a homestead lifestyle looks like outside of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Anthony said Franciscan University needs “a land set aside to grow plants, to cultivate beauty.”

The university has beautiful flowerbeds with colorful flowers, but it does not have a dedicated garden to grow beautiful and useful plants. This is what the Catholic Agrarian Club is trying to rectify.

Recently, the club sponsored a beekeeping talk. In the future, they will sponsor workshops and classes in bread making, cheese making, carpentry, masonry and other homestead arts. These skills will help students to understand the agrarian lifestyle and to be more self-sufficient once they leave the university.

Anthony said, “It’s not a gardening club, and it’s not an environmentalist club.”

The purpose is not merely to care for the earth. Instead, the club brings students back to the simplicity of the homestead lifestyle.

He said, “We live in a very artificial world, cut off from community, cut off from creation, cut off from meaningful work, from beauty, from pain.”

Instead of watching life through a screen, Anthony said club members will work with their hands to grow food and make useful tools.

Anthony said, “What students really need is a chance to get back to what’s real in life.”

He emphasized that the Catholic Agrarian Club is designed to help students in mental health as well as academically and spiritually. The club does this by bringing members outdoors in communication with each other and reconnects them with the beauty of creation, which is a reflection of God’s beauty.

The club already has several projects planned for next semester, including obtaining chickens, planting an orchard and building a garden in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Students who are interested in joining the Catholic Agrarian Club can find the link to the group chat on fliers around campus, or may email Kaleena Montez, kmontez001@student.franciscan.edu to be added.

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