By Amanda Murthy
Father Mark Rucci, who was Ordained into the Priesthood on 16 August 2019, sat down with The Record and opened up on why he decided to give up what he thought was his dream life in his 40s to follow Jesus.
“A big turning point in my life was 2002 when I turned 33 years of age,” Fr Rucci recounted.
“In my mind I thought: ‘Jesus was 33 when he died. What have I done with my life now that I’m turning 33?’ And so began a nine-year journey searching for the truth.”
Then for the next three years, Fr Rucci explained, he made a conscious effort to learn more about the faith. He confided in the Catholic community, studied the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible, and started attending daily Mass.
“Once I confessed my sins and resolved to change my life, interestingly, everything fell into place!”
“I got my dream job at BHP as an Engineer, I was on really good income and even purchased my dream property. The life that I had wanted for myself at the time was finally becoming a reality.”
Although Fr Rucci gained all the success he had hoped for, and felt blessed for the life he had, he remembered feeling a sense that there was still “something missing”.
“I asked my Spiritual Director Fr Armando [Carandang]: ‘Mine has been an intellectual conversion, but where is the love? [referring to the two commandments of Jesus: love God and thy neighbour]”
In 2009, after expressing his need to Fr Armando to do more for the community, Fr Rucci was sent to work with the Missionaries of Charity sisters in aiding the homeless with food.
This experience, Fr Rucci shared, truly opened his eyes to a new reality of peoples’ existence and prompted yet another question in his mind: “How can I have so much, when so many have so little?”
His new-found love to care for the needy, as Christ Himself did, would lead to a project he dubbed “Banana Run”. Fr Rucci did this work whilst juggling his engineering job, managing a household single-handedly, and caring for his mother, who at the time was battling cancer.
“I got a couple of friends together and we started the Banana Run – bringing bananas, muesli bars and a few other things to homeless people on a weekly basis,” Fr Rucci explained.
Despite all that was going on, Fr Rucci felt there was still a restlessness in his heart. Although, he had heard a calling to the priesthood around 2008, he only applied to enter the Seminary in early 2010, after his mother’s death.
“It was then that I realised that in order to go forward with the Lord, you have to let go of things that we might hold precious because God has something more precious to give us,” he added.
Fr Rucci acknowledged the support of his family and the Catholic community during the long journey to priesthood. The journey nevertheless has been fruitful. He noted, that he received many other blessings as a result of forsaking something that he thought he had “wanted all his life”.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day, what I hope for is that one day when I stand before the Lord, He will say: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your Master’s joy.”
Fr Rucci added that through the example of his life and ministry, he hopes to be able to lead people to come to know the fullness of God’s truth.
“As a priest, we have been appointed with the responsibility, of trying to gather as many of the flock as we can, the lost sheep, to bring them back to God and back to salvation,” he noted.
“I’ve been on the Seminary path for nine years, but it’s only been in the past two years that I have been able to tell someone that ‘God loves you very much’.”