WASHINGTON, DC — The Reverend Mark Rutherford, J.C.L., of Williamston, MI, has been appointed Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., announced the appointment today. As Judicial Vicar, Father Rutherford will be responsible for overseeing the work of the archdiocesan Tribunal, which handles matters of canon law including cases concerning the nullity of marriage. He succeeds Father Christopher Armstrong, J.C.D., S.T.D., who is returning to his home Archdiocese of Cincinnati after nearly six years as AMS Judicial Vicar.
In announcing the appointment, Archbishop Broglio said: “I am extremely grateful to Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, who has released Father Rutherford for service to the Archdiocese for the Military Services. The ministry of the Tribunal is a very pastoral one. People come with a great need and the Judicial Vicar tries to respond to those needs. Father Rutherford will make a very positive impact on that ministry.”
Father Rutherford said, “I’m both overjoyed and humbled, and honored. I look forward to working with everyone at the AMS and serving our military brothers and sisters as the new Judicial Vicar. I’ve been a pastor for the past six years, so this will be a change of pace. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to serve in this way. And I ask the faithful to pray for me as I step into the new role.”
Born and raised in the southeast Michigan cities of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, Father Rutherford, 37, grew up in a Catholic home with three brothers. Growing up, he and his brothers played hockey and wrestled. He first discerned a call to the priesthood at age 13 while attending a Franciscan University of Steubenville Youth Conference in 1997. He attended Catholic schools, public schools, and was home schooled before transitioning to college.
From 2001 to 2005, Father Rutherford attended Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, majoring in both Theology and Philosophy with a minor in classical languages. He was a member of the Pre-Theologate Program, which assisted men in discerning the priesthood. After graduating from Ave Maria, Father Rutherford was accepted as a seminarian by the Diocese of Lansing, attending Sacred Heart Major Seminary from 2005-2009. There he earned a Master of Divinity (M.DIV.) and a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.).
Father Rutherford was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lansing by Bishop Earl Boyea on June 13, 2009, the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua. He was assigned as Parochial Vicar of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Brighton, MI, from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, he was assigned as Parochial Vicar of the Church of the Resurrection, Lansing, MI. In 2014, he was assigned as Administrator of St. Mary Catholic Church and school in Williamston, MI, and while beginning studies in Canon Law at Catholic University of America, where he matriculated over the next five summers. He was named pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church and school in 2015.
Father Rutherford completed his degree in Canon Law in 2018, earning the J.C.L. In 2019, he competed in and completed the Ironman 70.3 Traverse City triathlon as a fundraiser for his youth group. He served on the Diocese of Lansing Education Board, the Tribunal of the Diocese of Lansing as Defender of the Bond, the Committee on Eastern Churches for the Canon Law Society of America, and Chaplain to the Diocese of Lansing Catholic Lawyers Guild, among other positions and activities in the realization of his priestly calling.
Father Rutherford comes from a military family. His mother grew up in the Air Force, and all three of his brothers served in the U.S. Navy. He assumes his new position as AMS Judicial Vicar on July 15.
Father Armstrong, meanwhile, will assume the role of Spiritual Director at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology in Cincinnati.