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Alumni Spotlight: Serving God and Others Abroad

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Tim Ruflin

When he was a high school senior, Timothy Ruflin, C’20, sought a college experience that would allow him to deepen his already strong Catholic faith within a community that emphasized real, human connections. Originally from Aledo, Texas, Ruflin decided in 2016 the Mount was the place he was looking for, and it exceeded his expectations. But he didn’t anticipate the next step in his journey.

tim-ruflin-in-text.jpgLast year, after a slight delay because of COVID-19, Ruflin traveled to Mullingar, Ireland, to begin the Echo Graduate Service Program, sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life.  The program leads to a master’s degree in theology while giving students real-world experience in lay ministry.  Ruflin serves as a catechetical leader in the Cathedral Parish in the Diocese of Meath, where he discovered that the Mount’s nurturing environment prepared him for a life of significance in service to God and others.  

From a young age, Ruflin has been actively involved in the Church.  Prior to his arrival in Emmitsburg, he served as a youth ministry volunteer and cantor in his local parish of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Weatherford, Texas.  In his current role as catechetical leader, he oversees the Mullingar Parish’s social media platforms, has implemented an online program for those making their Confirmation during the pandemic, and leads prayer services across the parish, along with many other tasks that assist parishioners.

Ruflin was introduced to the Echo Program as a theology major at the Mount.  The formation program integrates students' work, study and life of faith to serve the Church, explore a career in ministry, and grow as a disciple and leader in catechesis and evangelization. Tim’s apprenticeship permits him to study for his degree free of cost during the summer months.  

Ruflin attributes his desire to pursue a future in ministry to the courses and professors he experienced at the Mount.  As he dove more deeply into our undergraduate curriculum, he discovered new things about himself and the Church that he had not grappled with in the past. “I think that the theology major at the Mount was integral in helping me discover my future path and deepening my faith,” he explained. “I had such great professors who not only cared about the grades I was getting but also cared about my growth and development as a whole person.”

Ruflin’s academic advisor, Luis Vera, Ph.D., mentored him and encouraged him to apply for the Echo program. “That showed me how much he cared,” Ruflin reflected, “because he was genuinely interested in helping me succeed after I left the Mount.”  Academically, Ruflin performed admirably, graduating summa cum laude in May 2020, which prepared him for the rigorous task of pursuing a master’s degree.  

Ruflin chose Notre Dame’s Echo program because of the strong connection between the Mount’s mission and the goals of Echo. “There is definitely a strong connection between Notre Dame and the Mount,” he explained. “Two of our theology professors were graduates of Notre Dame, and a few of their professors taught at the Mount as well.” Furthermore, the Echo program aligned well with the Mount’s mission to graduate individuals who can grapple with the world’s tough problems through moral reasoning.  

While the lessons Ruflin learned inside the classroom were a big factor in his success, he knows that his experiences outside of the classroom were just as important. Ruflin explored a life of service during his time at the Mount by being active in Campus Ministry, working as a Kairos retreat leader and interning all four years in the Office of Social Justice.  He was also a member of the club baseball team and was eventually named its MVP.

Ruflin hopes to continue serving the Church. “My time at the Mount not only allowed me to pursue the Echo program but also my goals in ministry and beyond,” he said. By the end of this summer, he will finish his master’s degree and conclude his apprenticeship, taking with him an enhanced desire to serve others. As he moves forward, Ruflin will remain grateful that his time at the Mount prepared him for a life of significance.

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts