Vision Vocation Magazine, a national discernment guide for those interested in pursuing a religious life, will be featuring an interview with Brother Joe Ruiz, O.S.A. in their upcoming magazine. The magazine is a resource for those currently discerning a religious vocation; it is published by the National Religious Vocation Conference.
Brother Joe Ruiz, O.S.A., who professed his first vows as an Augustinian in August 2013, was interviewed for the upcoming feature article. Here's a sneak peek at what it will look like:
What is your full name?
Brother Joe Lewis Ruiz, O.S.A.
Where did you grow up?
Please tell a little bit about your family.
I have a twin brother, two brothers and 3 sisters; My dad is from Michoacán, México and my mom is from Austin, Texas; I have sister who is a Veterinarian in the South Texas Rio Grande Valley, another sister who runs a Mexican restaurant outside Austin and another sister who is an artist; my youngest brother is a former Marine who served in the Iraq War.
When you were growing up, did you think you might become a religious, or did you have a different dream for your life?
Growing up, I did not think about becoming a religious because I had no idea what a religious was. I grew up in the public school system and so my religious education happened at a diocesan parish (St. Mary’s of the Visitation) in Lockhart, Texas. In my teenage years, I had a dream of working in the music business as a record producer or starting my own record label and so when I graduated from Lockhart High School, I started an Associates degree in Music Business at Austin Community College. Well as you can see, God had other plans. Smile!
How did your family and friends respond when you told them you were joining a religious community?
To this day my family and most of my friends do not fully understand my vocation to religious life and I do not expect them too but you know I am okay with that. It’s a mystery and it keeps them intrigued.
What is your status in your community?
Simply professed Augustinian friar and religious brother
Ever had any nicknames?
Yes. Ever since I was an infant and up to this day my parents, siblings and extended family call me Güero, which means in Spanish “light-complected boy.”
What first drew you to religious life?
What first drew me to religious life was to see a group of dedicated, faith-filled, and hopeful men living together an ancient but yet a modern way of life.
How did you meet your religious community?
I first inquired about the Augustinians via the Internet. After my inquiry, our Vocation Director, Fr. Tom McCarthy, later contacted me and he invited me to visit the community in Chicago. While in Chicago, I was introduced to various members of the local community at St. Rita Monastery, shared meals and common prayer. After spending time with the Augustinian community, I noticed how deeply connected I was to them.
When did you enter the community?
I entered the Augustinians in August 2011
What is your current ministry?
My current ministry is as campus minister at St. Rita of Cascia High School in Southside Chicago. I provide spiritual care and emotional support for students experiencing a recent loss in the family, grief, challenges at school or home, bullying, and/or even sharing in their joys. In addition, I assist with certain Campus ministry projects and I do presentations for our Theology classes.
What's your favorite part of your current ministry?
My favorite part of my current ministry is being invited by Theology teachers to give presentations to the students on particular topics regarding my own vocation as a religious brother, Augustine’s Confessions, and the vowed life. I enjoy challenging and encouraging students to reflect on their own life experiences in light of their own vocations in life.
What other types of ministry have you experienced since joining the community?
Every Tuesday, I teach a group of students from Ballet Folklórico Xochitl, the traditional folk dances of México that includes various styles of footwork and choreography, located in La Villita in lower Westside Chicago.
Best ministry experiences to date?
Living the joy and struggles of community life
Tell us about some of the funniest thing(s) that you've experienced since joining your community.
Perhaps it’s not the most funniest but the coolest thing I’ve experienced in my community is dancing with my brothers including my Provincial at a Valentine’s fundraising dance in full black habits to a live version of Chubby Checker’s The Twist.
What's your favorite food?
Your favorite way to pray?
My favorite way to pray is reflecting on daily sacred scripture as well as journaling.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy hiking in the desert, mountains or wherever there are trails. I also enjoy hanging out with my Augustinian brothers as well as hanging out with my friends from other religious communities. They give me a sense of connection and a sense of belonging.
Who is your favorite saint(s)?
St. Teresa of Avila, although she is not an Augustinian, her familiarity with Augustine’s Confessions entwined with her own interior mystical experiences has attracted me to this great Doctor of the Church.
My favorite Augustinian quote:
“You created for yourself O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
What is the best part of living in community?
Doing and sharing ministry together whether it’s shoveling the Chicago snow together as a house or each of us contributing to one another’s ministries whether in our schools or parishes.
Thank you, Brother Ruiz and Vision Vocation for sharing this story! We look forward to reading the full interview when its published in the upcoming Vision Vocation magazine.