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Sunday, June 16, 2013

A New Assignment for Father Rutler

Father George Rutler
One of this blog's most popular features have been the profound and beautifully crafted columns by Father George William Rutler.  

Father Rutler was an Anglican priest before his conversion to the Catholic faith in the 1970's.  In his typically witty fashion, he once explained that the Episcopalian Church of his youth "is like Catholicism -- we used incense, but we never inhaled."  

Father Rutler was ordained as a Catholic priest by His Eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke in 1981. He served as Associate Pastor of St. Joseph's in Bronxville; Our Lady of Victory in the Wall Street area; and St. Agnes, in Manhattan. He was a university chaplain for the Archdiocese, and also chaplain to a general hospital and a psychiatric hospital. For ten years he was also National Chaplain of Legatus, the organization of Catholic business leaders and their families, engaged in spiritual formation and evangelization. A board member of several schools and colleges, he is Chaplain of the New York Guild of Catholic Lawyers, Regional Spiritual Director of the Legion of Mary (New York and northern New Jersey) and has long been associated with the Missionaries of Charity, and other religious orders, as a retreat master.  Since 2001, he has been the pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, on New York's Park Avenue.  The Church in New York and, indeed, the universal Church is extraordinarily blessed by this very gifted and holy priest.  

In his first years as a Catholic priest, young Wall Street professionals who may have first read an op-ed by Father Rutler in the Wall Street Journal, packed his daily, noon Masses and stood in the doorways to hear his homilies and sermons.  When he served at Saint Agnes Church near Grand Central Station, crowds filled the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom to hear his reflections for Good Friday.  Therefore, we were a bit stunned to learn that he is to become pastor of a parish in the Hell's Kitchen section of New York City and the administrator of a second.  Like Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Father Rutler has an enormous gift for evangelization.  We have no doubt that he will continue to draw souls to Christ from all over New York and from all over the world through his books, columns and TV programs on EWTN.  However, it seems such abundant gifts should be showcased, not spent on redoing roofs, building maintenance, plumbing repair, and paying the bills for two parishes.  We just hope that the new assignment will be a brief stop before this spiritual and intellectual giant becomes an Archbishop (there's an Archdiocese just across New York Harbor that has had a string of appallingly bad Archbishops and could desperately use his help).  We hope, too, that he will be writing many more columns.  In any event, we thank Father Rutler for all that he does to build the Kingdom and we pray that God will continue to bless his very fruitful ministry.

Father Rutler's Column for June 16, 2013
Writing a weekly message to you is a challenge even under ordinary circumstances, because the cruel regimen of the printer requires that it be done with 480 words or fewer. Usually I spin it off on a Monday morning, which is not the most inspiring time in the week for most people. In the twelve years that I have been pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, I have written many hundreds of columns, and of them all, none has been more daunting for me than this one. In 480 words I must explain that I shall be moving on to a new position, albeit for the same Saviour who has been so patient with me as a poor priest of His since Cardinal Cooke ordained me in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on September 8, 1981. I promised obedience to the Cardinal and to his successors, and I have done that and continue to do that and shall do that until all my earthly shepherds turn me over to the Chief Shepherd, whom I hope will spare the rod and comfort me more with his staff.

I was gratified that so many wanted me to stay here, and Cardinal Dolan was not unaware of that when he decided that he has other tasks for me to undertake. The Church is vaster than any particular parish, beloved as ours is for many far and wide, and while I am moving to the far other end of our island on the West Side, it is not like going to the moon. I am to be pastor of St. Michael’s Church near Pennsylvania Station and administrator of Holy Innocents Church in the Garment District. St. Michael’s is on the southern perimeter of what New Yorkers long ago came to call “Hell’s Kitchen,” but that is not the Hell from whose fires we pray to be saved. It is actually a quickly changing neighborhood, and I shall have some responsibility for extending the work of the Church to meet the needs of the residences and new businesses that are expanding there.

I have until August 1 to say in various ways what I cannot say in a few lines of print. Cardinal Egan officially appointed me your pastor in the tumultuous week following the attacks on September 11, 2001. Our city has undergone unimaginable changes since then, and I think it may be said that our parish has also changed greatly. I am thankful for all the blessings we have received here and for all those who have been a blessing to me. These twelve years have been a lifetime counted one way, but counted another way they have been “short as the watch that ends the night.” Instead of squeezing all my thoughts into 480 words, I shall uncharacteristically refrain from words and let my prayers thank God for all He has done.

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