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Letting God Use You
Newly ordained Legionary priest makes an impact on New Orleans schoolchildren.

Fr Richard Sutter, LC, with schoolchildren
Fr Richard Sutter, LC, chaplain at Christian Brothers School in City Park, distributes Communion to students.

January 20, 2010. New Orleans, LA. Fr Richard Sutter, LC, was just ordained this past December 12, 2009 in Rome, and is already making an impact by his witness of dedication to Christ. His recent visit to a Christian Brothers school in New Orleans prompted an insightful remark that holds true for every priestly vocation in the Church: “You don’t know what you did today for those kids in that room. God uses you.”

This article was first printed in the Clarion Herald, the New Orleans archdiocesan newspaper. Article reprinted with permission. All photos courtesy of Christine Bordelon.

Youthful priest shares his blessings with students

By Christine Bordelon
Clarion Herald

January 16, 2010 | New Orleans LOCAL CLARION HERALD | Page 3

One could say that Father Richard Sutter took the long road to becoming a priest – he experienced his first call to a religious vocation at age 17 but didn’t start the journey to the priesthood for another 13 years.

After 11 years of study, Father Richard, now 40, was ordained a priest in Rome with the Legionaries of Christ on Dec. 12.

He celebrated his first Mass Dec. 17 in Rome at the Clementine altar, next to St. Peter’s
Fr Sutter with lector
Fr Richard Sutter helps a young lector during Mass.
tomb, but celebrated his first Mass in the U.S. Jan. 5 at Christian Brothers School in City Park, where he has been assigned chaplain.

He also will be a retreat leader at Acadian Oaks Catholic Retreat Center, a Legionaries of Christ-owned retreat center in Lafayette, and continue a leadership training program for youth held twice yearly at Christian Brothers that his predecessor Legionaries of Christ Father Patrick Murphy had headed.

“What makes (this Mass) so special and what makes it so beautiful is that it is with you,” Father Sutter told the students in grades 5-7.

The young have impact

In explaining the Gospel passage of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Father Sutter asked them to “respond and collaborate with God’s love” and shared two stories of boys their age who did just that. In one Gospel passage, a boy gave up the original loaves and fishes when asked by the disciples to feed the multitude.

In another story, a boy was assigned to bring a gift for the baby Jesus during the Christmas season. When the student didn’t bring anything, the teacher inquired if he had forgotten to do the assignment but the student responded: “My gift to baby Jesus is there. My gift to baby Jesus is myself. I will love him and keep him warm and feed him.”

“He collaborated with that love of God,” Father Sutter said.  “The question for each one of us is, ‘What am I going to give Jesus today?’”

He made attainable suggestions to students: giving kind words, helping others, doing home chores, thanking their parents and praying for someone in need.

“Jesus can feed the thousands,” he said. “One act of charity can go a long way. God is love, and when we love like Jesus, we share that love. ... When we give, we receive all the more.”

Special papal blessing

After Mass, he mentioned the delivery of letters to the Pope that Christian Brothers fifth graders had written. He also brought students ordination cards blessed by the Pope and delivered a special blessing sent by the Pope to the school on the occasion of its 50th anniversary this year.

Father Sutter said even though his call from God may have first come early in life it took life experiences – college, the military and a secular job – to point him toward the priesthood. The realization to heed his true vocation came, he said, while running in preparation for the Boston Marathon and seeing students with book bags, thinking he needed to spread God’s word and love to them.

“It is confirmation from God to be able to be here and serve you,” he told the students. “It is the providence of God. I come as Christ.”

Students then presented him with a spiritual bouquet dedicated with rosaries, Masses, communions and other sacrifices they had pledged.

“Awesome,” he said. “There is no greater gift on earth that I could receive than this.”

Paul Rucker, a religion teacher at Christian Brothers School, said Father Richard has inspired his students.

He speaks, they listen

“A couple of times he gave the homily as a deacon, and in class, the students asked questions and were impressed that a young guy like Father Richard has committed his life to Christ. Especially in this day and age, it is difficult.”

At a breakfast held in his honor after Mass, Father Sutter met with Christian Brothers board members and Father Neal McDermott, executive director of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Department of Christian Formation, which oversees Catholic schools.

“You don’t know what you did today for those kids in that room,” Father McDermott told Father Sutter, then proceeded to tell him about being educated in Catholic schools before becoming a Dominican priest. “God uses you.”

“Vocations are a call from God,” he said. “The greatest thing one can discover in their life is our call from God, our vocation (whatever it is). Any vocation and every vocation has its cross, has the joys of Mount Tabor, the gardens of Gethsemane. ... It is through embracing the cross with Christ that we are fulfilled.”



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