Priest Q&A with Father Paul Rutten
Father Paul Rutten is known in many areas of the diocese as a sometimes quiet but also engaging priest. He was ordained June 21, 2002, and has served at St. Mary, Aberdeen; Pius XII Newman Center, Brookings; St. Paul, White; Immaculate Conception, Watertown; and St. Mary, Sioux Falls, along with time as vocations director for the diocese. He grew up on the north end of Sioux Falls under the shadow of the spires of the cathedral and has nine siblings, including a brother who is also a priest (Father John Rutten).
How did you get your call to the priesthood?
During my last years of college at South Dakota State University, I felt that even though I had all the things I wanted, I was still lacking something. The diocese had an Operation Andrew Dinner where the bishop gathers with young men for a time of prayer, a meal and a discussion around discernment. It was there that I realized I could at least give the seminary a shot and still stay on track to get a degree. I had thought about the priesthood off and on throughout my life, but never really gave it serious thought until then.
What did you do before the priesthood?
I went to seminary straight out of school so I never had a career of sorts before becoming a priest.
Is there a particular part of Catholicism that really fascinates you?
I have always been drawn to the mystery of the Eucharist. To this day, it still humbles me to think Jesus Christ allows himself to be made present in what was a piece of bread and a cup of wine. Even as a kid, I was always drawn to Mass and the opportunity to receive Communion.
Who was most influential in your life?
There were a lot of people who have been influential in my life. For sure, my parents. They had a deep faith that helped them navigate the challenges of life, and it was evident to me and others that Jesus Christ was more than just a historical figure, but he was the one who had changed their lives and continued to change their lives. As I have gotten older, I have realized many aspects of my life were formed by witnessing their own lives and how they responded to the ups and downs of life.
What’s your favorite part of being a priest?
What’s the most challenging thing?
For me, it is the fact that you rarely have an empty to-do list. There is always something to do or something that needs to be done. I like to start and finish a project, but as a priest you often are the one who starts it, but someone else finishes it. Or you have to finish what someone else started. Which I know is scriptural, but it still doesn’t make it easy!
Who is your go-to saint? Why?
St. Joseph. There are so many ways in which he fulfilled God’s will for his life and continues to aid the Church and me. I also like the fact that we have no recorded words of St. Joseph. I can be pretty quiet from time to time, and so it is nice to know there are saints out there who didn’t have to say much on their way to heaven.
What do you do in your spare time?
I belong to a gym and try to get out for a walk on a regular basis. I do like to hang out with family and friends, so I try to do that as much as possible.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Calling BINGO makes me nervous!
How can your parishioners and people of the diocese best help you be a great priest?
Pray for me. Take seriously their own call to grow in holiness and to gain a deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Catholic faith. I desire for the parish to be a place where people’s faith comes alive and they are enriched and encouraged to continue this journey that began at their baptism.
If you could have supper with anyone from history (besides Jesus), who would it be and why?
Father Georges Lemaitre, the Belgian priest who came up with the Big Bang theory. It would be fascinating to listen to him explain deep theories of science and at the same time a deeper appreciation for the faith and all it informs.