Father George Rutler: A Mentor to World Leaders
Father George Rutler, known to many as the pastor of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, achieved much in his life. He graduated from Dartmouth as a Rufus Choate Scholar and received numerous titles in the Catholic Church, including an Associate Pastor of St. Joseph in Bronxville, New York, and the National Chaplain of Legatus for Catholic Business Owners. After his appointment by Cardinal Dolan, he became pastor of the Archangel St. Michael in 2013. In addition to being a preacher and pastor, Rutler is the author of around 30 books on history, theology, cultural subjects, and the lives of saints. He also contributed to various scientific journals.
In addition to being a well-known figure of Catholicism, Father Rutler is also a civil servant. While serving as an associate pastor at St. Agnes Church in Midtown Manhattan, he was doing his job when the September 11th terrorist attack hit the Twin Towers. “I was in St. Agnes at the time,” he said, “I heard that plane and it sounded like it was right over the terminal (Grand Central). I thought this is a very big airplane, why is it flying so low? And when I was, I heard that distant bang. I knew immediately that it was going to hit something. “Anyone who was in Manhattan on that treacherous day can remember the horror, the shocking disbelief in what had happened.
After hearing the commotion, the pastor ran three and a half miles to the towers in Lower Manhattan. He saw firefighters and police rush in while people jumped off the buildings. He rushed to the old St. Peter’s Church, a block from the World Trade Center, to fetch sacred oils. To his dismay, he saw the lifeless body of a fellow priest lying there. “The inside of the church was covered with dust, says Rutler. “The priest’s body was taken to the church and the police officers were totally shocked. I remember a policeman crying on the steps. They didn’t know what to do, so they put the body in front of the altar. “Since that day, Rutler has stayed away from what is now referred to as Ground Zero. On the anniversary of the attacks, he holds a special requiem mass for the dead.
Because of his heroic efforts, he was honored by the New York City Council and named an Honorary Fireman by the City of Dallas. Former President George W. Bush also made him an Honorary Texan to recognize his bravery. In addition, on September 17, 2001, Cardinal Egan appointed him pastor of the Church of the Redeemer in midtown Manhattan. Here he and his community have bravely served victims and firefighters in the World Trade Center. His selfless acts as a servant of the needy really stood out. George Rutler did so much for the Catholic Church that he is often compared to some household names, including Monsignor Knox, Cardinal Newman, and GK Chesterton. As both a pastor and a writer, many people today would like to be seen as as influential as Rutler. But especially in times of terror, it is people who do good to others who are noticed and deserve respect. To think that Rutler stepped in without a second thought and offered his help wherever it was needed is truly remarkable. Many leaders around the world can learn a great deal from the steps he took on that terrible day in our nation’s history. Caring for and doing something about the needs of others is what makes a true leader.