Diocesan News

Priest’s gift benefits schools

Father Rutten Endowed Chair established at David City Catholic Schools

Story by Reagan Scott

DAVID CITY (SNR) – When Father Paul Rutten passed away in March, he left a gift of $1.2 million to Aquinas and Saint Mary’s Catholic Schools in David City.

This gift, which has been added to the Aquinas and St. Mary’s Endowment Fund, is the largest the schools have received.

To honor Father Rutten’s legacy and the impact he made as Aquinas’s guidance counselor, the Father Rutten Endowed Chair for Guidance Counseling has been established to support the salary of the school’s guidance counselor.

“This is a way to honor Father Rutten for his gift, and that gift will keep on giving forever,” Father Sean Timmerman, the chief administrative officer for Aquinas and Saint Mary’s Schools said.

The school’s endowment fund contributes more than $200,000 to the school’s budget annually. With the addition of Father Rutten’s gift, that amount will increase by about $50,000 a year.

Deb Svec, the assistant development director and alumni director for Aquinas and Saint Mary’s Catholic Schools said that they often know about planned gifts to the schools, but that Father Rutten’s gift came as a “total surprise.” 

Since he was young, Father Rutten had strong connections with the David City area. He grew up in Butler County and attended nearby Assumption High School in Dwight. 

After being ordained in 1958 at St. Francis Church in David City, Father Rutten served in Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Falls City, Sacred Heart in Lincoln and taught at Pius X High School.

In 1965, Father Rutten returned to David City to serve as the guidance counselor at Aquinas. He worked with students there for 19 years.

Svec and Father Timmerman both said they have heard stories of the incredible impact that Father Rutten had on the school during his time there.

“Former students said that he was always in the hallway, always very helpful to juniors and seniors getting ready for college,” Father Timmerman said. “He was always very kind and very helpful to them.”

Both Father Timmerman and Svec mentioned how many students ended up finding careers and majors based on the advice that Father Rutten gave them; including the president of the Endowment Board, who became an engineer because Father Rutten suggested it.

“Father Rutten loved Catholic education and wanted to have a hand in making sure it continued,” Svec said. “He was very much in touch with his roots and he knew what an impact this gift would have. I hope his generosity will encourage others to consider doing the same thing.”

Father Timmerman was surprised that Father Rutten had remembered the schools in his will, and is inspired by the legacy that he left, and will continue to leave on the school.
He said, “This is something that Aquinas will always be grateful for.”

Father Rutten later served at All Saints Parish in Holdrege and at St. Joseph and St. Mary parishes in Lincoln. He finished his active priestly duties as chaplain at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and other health care facilities in Lincoln from 1991-2008.

Sister M. Andrea of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, who staff Bonacum House for retired priests in Lincoln, spoke about Father Rutten at the time of his death.

“I always felt safe expressing the joys and pains of my life with him,” she said. “He was a gentle person with a compassionate heart—a heart like the heart of Jesus Christ. This, I believe is what attracted so many people to him—people from all walks of life.”

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