Father George Rutler: How to Become a Successful Pastor

For people who aspire to one day become a true member of the Catholic community, those who wish to one day become a pastor or preacher to the Lord, know very well how much time and dedication it takes to reach such a position. It takes years of religious study and experience to obtain the eligibility to guide large groups of believers through the path of faith. Some people may not have the drive to put in that much time into a career in religion. However, if a person is willing to put in the work, they one day might end up as successful as Father George Rutler

Rutler has dedicated most of his life to Catholicism. He began his journey as the youngest Episcopal rector in the country when he headed the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. He was accepted in the Catholic Church in 1979. To continue on his path, the church sent him to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Afterwards, Father Rutler attended multiple universities and obtained numerous degrees. He was a Rufus Choate Scholar at Dartmouth and holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome. One of the degrees include a Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology. He also obtained a Master of Studies degree from the University of Oxford in England.  Rutler’s resume may sound overwhelming to some, but it paints a picture of his passion to be as involved in the Catholic Church as possible. If it wasn’t for the amount of time and effort he put into his education, he would not be where he is today. 

To become a pastor, one must take the following steps. First, they must obtain a Bachelor’s Degree from a 4-year college. During that time of study, try to become involved in the campus ministry as it will be beneficial in gaining necessary experience. Second, once the degree is in possession, seek a job as an associate pastor. This will improve one’s knowledge on the pastor’s responsibilities and will give graduates a chance to lead spiritual groups and have a chance to be a counselor.  The third step is to complete a Master’s Degree program. The time requirement to receive a Masters could take up to 3-4 years. The courses may include an apprenticeship program that will give students the opportunity to observe and practice their skills. To be an effective pastor, one must be an active speaker as well as an active listener. They have to gain the trust and comfortability of the community members of the church. After completing their education, the last step of becoming a pastor is seeking senior pastor opportunities. 

Once Father George Rutler completed his studies, he served as an Associate Pastor for three churches in New York, St. Joseph’s in Bronxville, Our Lady of Victory in the Wall Street area, and St. Agnes in Midtown Manhattan. Similar to what the guided steps tell us, he went the extra mile by adding “National Chaplain of Legatus” on his resume. He led an organization of Catholic business leaders plus their families in spiritual formation. That is one major takeaway of becoming a household name in the church, expand your resume and become actively involved in as many responsibilities as possible to show your dedication. All of Rutler’s hard work was finally paid off in 2013 when he was appointed by Cardinal Dolan and became pastor of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. 

There is no denying the amount of hard work a person puts in to accomplish a goal. When effort is displayed, people eventually see results. For someone who wants to put that hard work toward becoming a pastor of a Catholic Church, it will take years of their time, but in the end, they will reach their destination.


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Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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