Mara Rutten becomes Maryknoll sister

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mara Darlene Rutten, 43, knew she was in the right place when she visited Cambodia to serve the people in various ways, so she made a choice to join the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic.

“I just reached the point where I felt that it needed to be a full-time commitment, like a life commitment,” she said. “And I’m interested in working specifically in missions, and that’s why [I chose] Maryknoll.”

On Aug. 23, Rutten, formerly of Austin and who later lived in Arizona, will become the newest Maryknoll Sister of St. Dominic at a mass at the congregation’s center in Ossining, New York.



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A 2000 graduate of Arizona State University, Tempe, with a doctorate in philosophy, Rutten, who also holds a master’s degree from South Illinois Univeristy, Carbondale (1996), and a bachelor’s degree from University of Minnesota, Morris (1994), recently completed her candidacy as a Maryknoll Sister in Chicago, Illinois, where she attended Catholic Theological Union and completed other preparatory programs required by the congregation.

Rutten first thought about committing her life to the service while an active member of Most Holy Trinity Parish, Tucson, Arizona.

There she participated in “Just Faith,” a program which builds awareness of social justice issues in its participants and gives Catholics opportunities to meet the needs of struggling people in their local areas and beyond. These experiences sparked Rutten’s enthusiasm for mission work, leading her to contact the Maryknoll Sisters.

“It’s one of those things where you spend your whole life kind of dreaming and thinking about it and now it’s actually happening,” she said.

Partnering as a lay woman with Maryknoll Sisters, Rutten worked with them among the poor and underprivileged in Cambodia. She held a variety of positions, working with students at the university teaching English, working with preschool-aged children and more. This association led her to seek membership in the congregation.

“I think we all are called to do everything we can to help each other and to make this world a better place, an easier place for people to live,” she said.

In her request to be considered, Rutten wrote, “I have admired the Maryknoll Sisters since I was a little girl and first heard about them through the atrocities in El Salvador. From that time forward, that is what I thought of when I thought about love: to go where you were needed but not always wanted, to refuse to abandon those whom you had come to love despite physical danger, and to serve God all the while. Through the Maryknoll family, I believe I have found the best avenue to give and receive love.”

Rutten will receive her Chi-Ro ring, the sign of her commitment to God and Maryknoll Sisters which formalizes her entry into religious life, at the Mass on Aug. 23. In the fall, she will receive her mission cross and her first official mission assignment as a Maryknoll Sister overseas.

“We walk around letting people think that they’re not loved, that they don’t mean anything, and I think that’s the biggest sin,” Rutten said. “Because God loves them and everybody is beautiful in the eyes of God and should be to us.”