Father Bonaventure Rummell, C.F.R., admits he has “wrestled” with his calling to the priesthood. First implanted as a youngster in seventh grade in Oregon listening to the adventures of his pastor, John Murphy, a missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, he says the calling never really went away. He just chose not to think about it for a time.
He had actually been serious enough about it to leave home as a teenager to attend a boarding high school operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Texas. But as a teenager many other things were crowding into his mind. After two years in the school and a year in a college program in Austin, he decided to leave the Oblates.
“I guess it just wasn’t quite the right fit,” he acknowledged. “I wouldn’t say there was a specific thing, just the difficulties of choosing this unique path among my peers. I had difficulties reconciling the other desires I had in life, the desire for my own career, possessions.
Instead, he enlisted in the Army, a career shift that wasn’t as radical as it might seem. His father had served in the Army. Father Rummell, 38, had been born in Germany and grew up a self-described “Army brat” on bases in Germany and the United States.
“I would say there is a connection between answering the call to religious life and being a soldier,” he explained. “There is not a direct connection but there is an indirect connection between the self-giving that soldiers experience and the self-giving that’s asked of a priest or religious.”
When he got out of the Army he was seriously considering marriage. “I had a girlfriend. But over time, that didn’t work out. We broke up,” he explained. “And when that relationship ended, although it wasn’t immediate, I began thinking about how I wanted to spend my life. By that point I was a manager for a company that fixed cell phones. I was thinking maybe I wanted to be a youth minister. I got involved in the confirmation program at my parish, stuff like that.
“But there was just this continual desire to want to give more, to want to search for Christ more, to want to bring Christ to other people more and eventually that led me to begin discerning religious life again.”
He remembered a book he had read as a teenager on the life of St. Francis of Assisi written by St. Bonaventure.
“I re-read that book and I attribute it to being the inspiration for my desire to become a Franciscan,” he said. “That’s why I took the name Bonaventure.” He studied the various communities, eventually choosing the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York. “There is a simplicity with which the friars live their lives,” he explained, “their work with the poor, youth, the Eucharistic focus of their lives, wearing the habit.”
He said the call was always there, even when he suppressed it.
“The inspiration from those early days with Father John was always geared towards the priesthood,” he explained, “the Eucharist, confession, bringing Christ to people through the sacraments. There is a need for that in the world that my heart responds to, I would put it that way.”
Father Rummell’s first Mass will be Sunday, May 26 at 10 a.m. at St. Adalbert’s Church in the Bronx. Father Conrad Osterhout, C.F.R., will be the homilist.