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Retreat center director guides others to discern their callings

Befriending homeless street people and an imprisoned drug dealer led Deacon John Ruschiensky from a successful career in food distribution to his life today as a deacon, hospice chaplain and retreat center director.

JOhn Ruschiensky
Deacon John Ruschiensky

As director at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center (IHRC), he has downsized the budget he manages by more than tenfold, but upsized his role as a spiritual guide, mentor and companion. At IHRC, he handles administration, preaching and individual spiritual direction.

One of the toughest things when I first came here was the financial ups and downs of running a retreat center.  Across the United States, retreat centers are struggling.  Doing administration and ministry together pulled me from the business aspects of paying bills to spiritual concern for people,” John said.

While covering 11 states from the 1980s to 1998, promoting fast foods in convenience and grocery stores, John not only made businesses profitable but also befriended those he met.  While he helped people he supervised become more productive, he learned about their lives and families, talking openly about God. 

John saw God at work in corporate America—creating jobs, supporting families, feeding people, developing economic health and providing what people need to live.  He continues to build relationships among staff and with visitors to IHRC, especially in individual spiritual direction.

With income from donations rather than sales, there are fewer resources and fewer staff in retreat-center work.  So it takes more time to accomplish some projects, he said.  People give because they believe in what the center does-—giving wholeness to people’s lives.

For information, call 448-1224.