Ruellan P. Fink, O.S.A.

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1891 – 1976 (June 18)

Ruellan Pius Fink was born November 30, 1891, in Littlestown, Pennsylvania to Basil Fink and Ella Noel. He received his early education in parochial schools of Littlestown and East Liverpool, Ohio, and Moundsville, West Virginia. In 1908 he entered the Augustinian program of formation at Villanova College, Villanova, Pennsylvania, and was received into the novitiate on June 20, 1912. He professed simple vows on June 20, 1913, and solemn vows on June 20, 1916. He earned a B. A. in Philosophy from Villanova College in 1916, while pursuing courses in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He did his theological studies at Villanova from 1916 to 1920, and taught chemistry at the College while doing so. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 1919.

Following 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,  he was appointed Vice-President, and 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.

In 1932, Father Fink was named prior at Cascia Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The school was at the time experiencing serious financial difficulties, 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. 

He was transferred in that year to St. Rita High School, Chicago, Illinois, as St. Rita was facing an enormous debt and little prospect 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, which included a wide variety of courses in many areas. Within five years, the school was totally solvent. 

When the new Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel 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. There he developed a large garden, which provided a variety of vegetables 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, but continued as a member of the St. Augustine community until the time of his death on June 18, 1976. He is buried in the Augustinian plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.