Carrying on for Sister Isabel Rudge
By Amanda Tonoli
From Ursuline High School’s graduation in 1948 until now, Sister Isabel Rudge has dedicated her life to serving the community and serving the church.
For the past 20 years, Rudge served in a pastoral leadership position at St. Columba Cathedral, 154 W. Wood St., and after Sunday’s Advent procession, she said it was time for her to retire.
Rudge’s decision didn’t come easily despite a recent collarbone injury, from which she has since healed, and a health issue causing her to have difficulty driving.
“I have such a mixture of sadness and joy because I had a wonderful experience here,” she said. “I have ministered with people in sad times like during funerals and with people having their first baby baptized.”
It is the people – due to the wide variety of them – Rudge said she would miss the most.
More than 100 of those people gathered in the St. Columba Cathedral Hall on Sunday evening to both celebrate and mourn her retirement.
Lifelong parishioner Chrissy Soanina of Cornersberg said Rudge’s retirement will take a toll on her.
“She’s been a part of my family’s life forever,” she said. “There are so many things to miss. ... She has always been a dearest friend to me and always taught me to be caring and be my best.”
Barbara Zorn of Austintown, said it is truly a loss the church will be taking.
“Sister Isabel is just such a wonderful woman,” she said.
“She is never tired – never tired of giving to people or this cathedral 365 days a year. That’s absolutely a true story. She doesn’t live for anything for herself.”
Zorn said when Rudge was recovering from her collarbone injury the church was struggling to keep up with all that she does in the community.
Rudge taught in several Youngstown Diocesan schools; ministered at the St. Columba Cathedral, the Ursuline Sisters’ Motherhouse and Center and the Tribunal of the Diocese; served as a member of the Liturgical Commission of the Diocese of Youngstown; and is currently on the board of the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches.
Now, St. Columba will simply have to just carry on.
“It’s not going to be the same as her doing, but for the sake of her legacy, we have to really try to keep things going the best we can,” she said. “She is such an inspiration to me and everyone we personally come into contact with.”
Marlyn Bennett of Campbell doesn’t think Rudge’s non-stop attitude will falter any time soon.
“She could outrun us,” she said. “Who knows what she’ll be doing after this. [She will] probably be traveling with all of her energy.”