Vocation Corner

Vocation Story ~ Friar John

Presently, we have eleven men in various stages of active discernment for our Province.  Please pray for them as they continue to listen to God’s voice in their hearts.  They are good men who want to follow Jesus, according to His will.
In order to foster vocations, our friars are planning to institute a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries. Our friars plan to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories. Here, we present the Vocation Story of one of our Parochial Vicars serving in an Archdiocese of Baltimore, three parish Pastorate – Fr. John Ruffo, OFM Conv.:

Vocation Story ~ Friar John Ruffo, OFM Conv.
It was early in grammar school when I was first attracted to the priesthood. I’m not really sure why. I guess I felt that our parish priest was special and “Wouldn’t it be cool to be like him?”.
One year, at a “vocational day” at our school, representatives from various walks of life came to speak to the 7th and 8th grade students: one singing the praises of the Army, another the rewards of a career in medicine, another the benefits of higher education, and so on. The priest who spoke to us that day happened to be a Franciscan Friar Conventual, and like every curious child I picked up all the free literature Father offered to us.
Sometime later, I read through the information I’d collected that “vocational day” and noticed that most of the brochures had contact information. Prompted by curiosity (or was it the Holy ?) I wrote to the Conventuals expressing my interest in the friars.
At first I didn’t understand all the difference between Religious Orders and the many different kinds of priests and Religious. When I finally had to ask my own Diocesan pastor’s permission to enter the seminary, he pointed out very quickly that the local Diocese needed priests too!
Thankful for my pastor’s signature, I entered the Franciscan Friars Conventual minor seminary in September of 1961, at the ripe old age of 14.
When did I decide to actually become a Franciscan friar? It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular day or event. The day I made vows, 50 years ago now, or was ordained a priest, 44 years ago now, were certainly grace-filled moments reflective of my ongoing commitment to St. Francis’ way of life. I see my vocation more as a process I live, a decision reaffirmed every day, rather than as a particular ceremony that gives public testimony to that evolving commitment.
In my years as a friar I’ve ministered in two countries, five states, and seven dioceses. I’ve enjoyed parish ministry, campus ministry, Franciscan formation ministry, and a stint as vocation director in Canada. I’ve always believed that I am where I am because God wants me to be there, according to His plan. I continue to enjoy living and ministering in community with my Franciscan brothers.
Being a Franciscan Friar Conventual is a blessed calling. As I said ‘yes’ to Christ’s invitation to follow Him in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi in my own personal past, with His grace I’ll continue to do so in my future. Then, as I come nearer the end of my life I’ll still be able to learn what my vocation means and become new again, even as I grow old.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
or call 718- 510-5822.