Father George Rutler, who many know as the pastor of the Church St. Michael’s the Archangel, has accomplished a lot throughout his life. He graduated from Dartmouth as a Rufus Choate Scholar and received numerous titles in the Catholic church such as an Associate Pastor of St. Joseph’s in Bronxville, New York and the National Chaplain of Legatus for Catholic business owners. He became pastor of St. Michael’s the Archangel in 2013 after being appointed by Cardinal Dolan. On top of being a preacher and pastor, Rutler is also the author of approximately 30 books about history, theology, cultural issues and the lives of the saints. He also contributed to various scholarly journals.
Aside from being a renowned figure for Catholicism, Father Rutler has also been recognized as a public servant. Back when he served as an Associate Pastor at the St. Agnes church in Midtown Manhattan, he was fulfilling his duties when the terrorist attack on 9/11 struck the twin towers. “I was at St. Agnes then,” he said, “I heard this plane and it sounded like it was right over (Grand Central) terminal. I thought, that’s a very big plane, why is it flying so low? And as I was that I heard this distant thud. I immediately knew it hit something.” Anyone who was in Manhattan on that treacherous day can recall the horror, the shocking disbelief for what had occured.
After hearing the commotion, the pastor ran 3 and a half miles to the towers in lower Manhattan. He saw firefighters and police officers rushing inside while people were jumping off the buildings. He rushed to the old St. Peter’s Church, a block away from the World Trade Center, to get holy oils. To his dismay, he witnessed a fellow priest’s lifeless body laying there. “The interior of the church was all covered in dust, Rutler recounts. “The priest’s body was brought into the church and the policemen were totally in shock. I remember one policeman crying on the steps. They didn’t know what to do, so they put the body in front of the altar.” Ever 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.
Due to his heroic efforts, he was honored by the City Council of New York and was made an honorary firefighter by the City of Dallas. Former President George W. Bush also named him an honorary Texan to recognize his bravery. Furthermore, on September 17th, 2001, Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Savior in Midtown Manhattan. This is where he and his parish courageously served victims and firefighters at the World Trade Center. His selfless actions as a servant to those in need truly stood out.George Rutler has done so much for the Catholic church, he is often compared to some household names including Monsignor Knox, Cardinal Newman, and G.K. Chesterton. Both as a pastor and as a writer, many people today would love to be thought of as much of an influence as Rutler. But especially in times of terror, it is the people who do good upon others who get noticed and deserve respect. To think that without a second thought, Rutler jumped in and offered his aid wherever it was needed is truly remarkable. Many leaders around the globe can learn a lot from the steps he made during that awful day in our nation’s history. Caring about the needs of others and doing something about it is what makes a true leader.