Background for Father Anthony Ruff, OSB


*** Simple Vows (Quarterly – July, 1989)

Brother Anthony (William) Ruff was born in 1963, and was raised on his family’s farm near Franklin, Minnesota. At Franklin High School he was class president, Future Farmers of America president, a band and choir member, and served as statistician for football and basketball. As it turned out, these activities did not always leave a lot of time to do farm work, he said.

Brother Anthony was an altar server and began playing the organ in church in seventh grade. He also admits to having played guitar in the local folk group “during part of my misspent youth.”

At the University from 1981-1986, he majored in Organ Performance and Liturgical Music, minoring in philosophy and theology. He was also a Resident Assistant in Benet Hall and worked in Campus Ministry.

After graduation from the college, Brother Anthony worked as a music director and liturgist at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Willmar, Minnesota. He reports that, from his freshman college year onward, he really never left Saint John’s for more than about two weeks in a row.

In the coming year, Brother Anthony looks forward to attending the School of Theology in the fall as well as helping out on the organ detail for abbey liturgies.

*** Solemn Vows (Quarterly – Summer, 1992)

Brother Anthony (William) Ruff was born in 1963 and grew up on the family farm near Franklin, MN. At Franklin High School (since closed), he was president of his class, the Future Farmers of America student president, a band and choir member, and statistician for football and basketball games.

But, he mentions, “it really surprised no one that I was not the son to take over the family farm.”

In his local parish, Brother Anthony was an altar boy and church organist while, as he admits, “I played guitar also in a pick-up folk group – during some of my misspent youth.”

He heard first about Saint John’s Abbey when a Twin Cities newspaper printed a several-page feature on the monastery. Something about the photograph of the grilled cloister door outside the abbot’s office entrance intrigued him. That initial fascination developed into deeper interest during his collegiate years in the university. He studied liturgical music, philosophy and theology here and was also a resident assistant in a college dormitory and a member of the campus ministry group.

Between graduation from college and entering the monastery, he was director of music and liturgy at St. Mary’s Parish, Willmar, MN. Since completing his novitiate year, Brother Anthony has been a full-time priesthood student while serving as an abbey organist, as a member of the various abbey choir groups and a member, as he notes, of “the ‘volunteered’ fire department, an assignment that brings back memories of my limited aptitude for the demands of farming.”

Although Brother Anthony’s first iconic image of Saint John’s Abbey was a glimpse through a grilled, cloister separation, he has enjoyed spending time during the juniorate in Minneapolis, Chicago, Israel and Europe since making his first vows. Referring to these travels, he reports that “they made me do it – those parts of the seminary program: clinical pastoral education, social ministry and the study in the Holy Land.”

He looks forward to ordination as a deacon in December 1992 and as a priest in May 1993. In his free time, he savors reading, swimming and, especially, a good game of Skat.

*** Transitional Deacon (Fall, 1992)

Father Patrick will be ordained a priest on 12 December at the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist that will also see Brothers Anthony Ruff and Michael Bik ordained as transitional deacons by Saint Cloud’s Bishop Jerome Hanus, OSB.

*** Monks to be Ordained (Community – May 12, 1993)

Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, 30, graduated from Saint John’s University in 1986 with a degree in liturgical music and then worked as the music and liturgy director of Saint Mary’s Church, Willmar, before entering the monastic community in 1988. Fr. Anthony has served the monastic community as an organist and member of the Abbey Schola and the Collegeville fire department. He completed his theological studies at Saint John’s School of Theology. Fr. Anthony will celebrate his first Mass in his hometown parish, Sacred Heart Church, Franklin, Minn., on Saturday, May 22, at 4 p.m. A reception will follow in the Fairfax Legion Hall. Fr. Anthony will spend the summer as pastoral associate at St. Bernard’s Parish, St. Paul. In September he will begin the study of the theology of liturgical music at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University.

*** Ordination (Quarterly – Spring, 1993)

During a solemn, evening liturgy in the Abbey and University Church, transitional deacons Michael Bik and Anthony Ruff were ordained priests by Bishop Jerome Hanus of St. Cloud on 21 May.

Father Michael celebrated his First Mass here, Saturday, 22 May, at the community gathering. Another celebration was held Sunday, 30 May, at St. Joan of Arc Parish, Lisle, Il. His immediate plans for the summer include assistant director and chaplain work in the Leadership Camps here.

Following his First Mass celebration on Saturday, 22 May, at Sacred Heart Church in Franklin, MN, Father Anthony is engaged as an associate pastor at St. Bernard’s Parish, St. Paul, through the summer.

*** MA in Theology (Quarterly – Summer, 1993)

Monks who recently received advanced degrees are: Father Michael Patella, a licentiate in Sacred Scripture; Father Michael Kwatera, a doctorate in liturgy; Brother David Rothstein an MA in English; Father; Anthony Ruff, an MA in theology; Father Michael Bik, an MTS in theology.

*** Master of Sacred Theology (Quarterly – Spring, 1994)

Father Anthony Ruff received his STM this spring from Yale, his thesis given honors and the designation “Distinguished.” He will go to Vienna in July to study German before further doctoral studies in liturgical theology and music at Graz University, Austria.

*** Begins Doctoral Studies (Quarterly – Summer, 1994)

Father Anthony Ruff, having received approval with honors and having cited as “distinguished” his MA thesis at Yale on “The Choir in Historical Perspective,” has already begun doctoral studies at the Institute for Liturgy, Christian Art and Music at the University of Graz, Austria. He also was awarded the Hugh Porter award for excellence in organ performance by the Yale music and divinity school faculty.

*** Monastic Institute session (Quarterly – Fall, 1996)

Father Anthony Ruff, back for the summer from his studies in Church music at the University of Graz, Austria, led a Monastic Institute session and put together a slideshow and lecture, using the Hill Monastic Microfilm Library materials, on singing in medieval Austrian liturgies. “Austrians sang in German during the liturgy from the 12th-16th century, clear testimony that German vernacular hymnody was well developed long before the Protestant Reformation,” he clarified.

*** Completed Doctoral Studies (Quarterly – Spring, 1998)

Father Anthony Ruff completed doctoral studies in theology (emphasis on liturgy) at the University of Graz, Austria, in May. His 609-page dissertation, entitled “Integration and Inconsistencies: The Thesaurus Musicae Sacrae in the reformed Roman eucharistic liturgy,” is a study of the statement of the Second Vatican Council that the “treasure of sacred music” from the past is to be preserved and fostered in the reformed liturgy. He received a summa cum laude upon his thesis defense and will become a full-time theology faculty member this fall.

*** Completed Doctoral Studies (Quarterly – Winter, 1999)

Father Anthony Ruff, musician and theologian, recently received news that he had been awarded the Josef-Foerderrungspreis of the Austrian government. The award is for academic and cultural achievement, given in view of his doctoral dissertation. This year, he was one of two (out of 350) awarded a stipend of 25,000 shillings at ceremonies on 18 March in Austria.

*** Founding of the National Catholic Youth Choir (Quarterly – Spring, 2000)

The abbey and university announced the founding of the National Catholic Youth Choir. Father Anthony Ruff, founder and assistant professor of theology, noted that it is the first ever national liturgically-based Catholic youth choir. Its initial coming together occurred at the annual June liturgical music conference here. Using the motto: “Spreading the Catholic Faith through Great Music,” the group is open nationally to Catholic boys and girls going into grades 10-12.

This first year the summer program brought over 40 high schoolers from across the nation for nearly two weeks of music rehearsal, music theory and history classes, religion classes, prayer, worship and recreation.

The newly formed choir sang in several concerts here and also in Duluth, Minneapolis and Milwaukee. Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB, commented:

“I am very pleased that Saint John’s is hosting a National Catholic Youth Choir. This group of young people singing at worship and in concert will be a sign of hope to us all that the Catholic faith continues to be vibrantly alive in the hearts of young people.”

A CD recording of the choir will be available in late summer.

*** Undergraduate Priesthood Group (Quarterly – Winter, 2001)

In related news, an Undergraduate Priesthood Group has been established through Saint John’s University’s campus ministry for young men thinking about priesthood at any level of interest. Nine students responded to the invitation at the beginning of this school year. Led by our Anthony Ruff, OSB, and Greg Mastey, at parish priest of the Saint Cloud Diocese, the group will meet every two weeks for prayer, presentations by priests on relevant topics, fellowship and support

*** Pray Tell Blog (November 12, 2013)

Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, is a monk of St. John’s Abbey. He teaches liturgy, liturgical music, and Gregorian chant at St. John’s University School of Theology-Seminary. He is the founder of the National Catholic Youth choir. He is widely published and frequently presents across the country on liturgy and music. He is the author of Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform: Treasures and Transformations, and of Responsorial Psalms for Weekday Mass: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter. He does priestly ministry at the local county jail and the neighboring community of Benedictine sisters in St. Joseph.

*** School of Theology Web Site (November 12, 2013)

Associate Professor of Theology, 1998-
National Catholic Youth Choir Founder and Chaplain, 2000-
B.A., Saint John’s University, 1986; M.Div., Saint John’s University, 1993; S.T.M., Yale Divinity School, 1994; Th.D., University of Graz, Austria, 1998

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