Father Rutler was ordained to the diaconate in Rome by His Eminence William Cardinal Baum in 1980 and received priestly ordination in St. Patrick's Cathedral at the hands of His Eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke in 1981. He served as Associate Pastor of St. Joseph's in Bronxville; Our Lady of Victory in the Wall Street area; and St. Agnes, in Manhattan. He was a university chaplain for the Archdiocese, and also chaplain to a general hospital and a psychiatric hospital. For ten years he was also National Chaplain of Legatus, the organization of Catholic business leaders and their families, engaged in spiritual formation and evangelization. A board member of several schools and colleges, he is Chaplain of the New York Guild of Catholic Lawyers, Regional Spiritual Director of the Legion of Mary (New York and northern New Jersey) and has long been associated with the Missionaries of Charity, and other religious orders, as a retreat master. Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has lectured and given retreats in many nations, frequently in Ireland and Australia. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.
Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition in New Jersey and New York, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years, and the youngest Episcopal rector in the country when he headed the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. His parents, Adolphe and Dorothy, both now deceased, were received into the Church in 1982 by Cardinal Cooke. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1988 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Thomas More College and Christendom College awarded himhonorary doctorates, and in 1996 Governor George W. Bush made him an Honorary Texan. For his help at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 he was honored by the City Council of New York and was made an honorary firefighter by the City of Dallas. He is a knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and chaplain of the St. Andrew's Society of the State of New York, the Robert Burns Society of the City of New York, and the West Point Society of New York.
Father Rutler has made documentary films in the United States and England, contributes to numerous scholarly and popular journals and has published 16 books on theology, history, cultural issues, and the lives of the saints, and also one book on sports, as a member of the U.S. Squash Racquets Association.