Rev. Ruellan P. Fink, O.S.A. (1891-1976)
Rev. Ruellan P. Fink, O.S.A. entered eternal life on June 18, 1976.
Ruellan Pius Fink was born on November 30, 1891 in Littlestown, Pennsylvania to Basil and Ella (Noel) Fink. He was baptized on December 30, 1891 at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Littlestown. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 1, 1904 in the same church.
Ruellan received his early education at parochial schools in Littlestown and East Liverpool, Ohio, and in public schools of Moundsville, West Virginia. In 1908, he entered the Augustinian program of formation at Villanova College, Villanova, Pennsylvania. He was received into the Augustinian Novitiate on June 20, 1912. Ruellan professed simple (temporary) vows in the Order of St. Augustine on June 20, 1913 and solemn (permanent) vows on June 20, 1916.
He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Villanova College in 1916. While studying at Villanova, he also took courses in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Ruellan pursued theological studies at Villanova from 1916 to 1920. He also taught Chemistry at the College while studying Theology. He was ordained a priest on June 8, 1919.
Following his ordination, Father Fink taught at Villanova and served as Chairperson of the Science Department. He established a course in Organic Chemistry and organized a Pre-Med program. Without any previous musical experience, he initiated musical activity at Villanova, organizing a symphony orchestra, a dance orchestra and a jazz band.
In 1926, Father Fink was appointed Vice-President of Villanova College. When a disastrous fire destroyed Mendel Hall, the main college building, during the 1926 Christmas break, he organized a fund drive that collected not only sufficient funds to rebuild Mendel Hall, but also to construct two additional campus buildings.
He later headed a committee that raised funds for a major expansion of college athletic facilities. One effective method used by the committee was the strategic placement of large billboards featuring both Villanova athletics and businesses supporting the expansion campaign.
Father Fink was named Prior in 1932 at Cascia Hall School, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The school was experiencing serious financial difficulties at the time, with declining enrollment and mounting debt. While teaching Chemistry and History, Father Fink aggressively recruited more students. By 1935, Cascia Hall was in good financial condition.
A new challenge faced Father Fink in 1935. He was transferred in that year to St. Rita High School, Chicago, Illinois. St. Rita was faced with an enormous debt and little prospects of being able to meet all its obligations. He set to work recruiting more students and seeking additional funds. The following year, he established what is believed to be the first Catholic technical high school program in the United States. The St. Rita Tech Program included courses in Wood Shop, Machine Shop, Mechanical Drawing, Automotives, Radio, Electrical Shop, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Aviation. Within five years, the school was totally solvent.
When the new Augustinian Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel (Augustinians of the Midwest) was established in 1941, Father Fink was elected its first Prior Provincial. One of his first concerns was to start a minor seminary program at St. Monica Seminary, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
After his term as Prior Provincial had come to an end in 1944, Father Fink was again appointed Principal of St. Rita High School, Chicago. He remained at St. Rita until 1962 and also served as Prior during several intermittent terms.
Father Fink was named Prior of St. Monica Novitiate, Oconomowoc, in 1962. He developed a large garden there that provided a variety of vegetables which were enjoyed not only by the St. Monica community but also by several other Augustinian communities as far away as Chicago.
In 1968, Father Fink was named Prior at St. Augustine Seminary, Holland, Michigan. He retired from that position in 1971. He continued to reside at St. Augustine until the time of his death on June 18, 1976.
He is buried in the Augustinian plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.