Published July 2, 2009
Rev. Mr. Sutter, who lives in Rome, Italy, is scheduled to be ordained as a priest in December.
The 40-year-old son of Atlanta Archdiocese Deacon Lloyd Sutter and Jill Sutter, he grew up attending St. Andrew Church, Roswell. Rev. Mr. Sutter graduated from Belmont Abbey College in 1991 with a degree in marketing. A distinguished ROTC graduate, he was an Army Ranger who served in a leadership role in Germany as an officer in the First Armored Division.
In 1997, he left the military for a business career, working as a project manager for Quest Diagnostics in New Jersey. And two years later, he attended a discernment Lenten retreat sponsored by the Legion. This time of prayer and reflection made a profound impression. During the retreat, Richard said he heard God speak to him, “This is how you pray. This is what I want you to be. I want you to be my priest.”
As Richard tells it, he knelt and replied, “I’m yours.” He explained later that never before had he experienced “such profound peace and joy.”
Today, those feelings remain. To serve as a deacon is a gift, he wrote. “It is a gift that moves me to respond out of love to Him who loved me first!” Rev. Mr. Sutter wrote.
He entered the novitiate in 1999 and studied in Connecticut and New York for several years, doing apostolic work for the Legionaries in St. Louis from 2004 to 2006. During the past three years, he has completed theology studies at the Center for High Studies in Rome. He has read the Gospel in Italian, Spanish, English and Latin as part of his duties and served at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Legion of Christ is an international religious congregation with more than 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians worldwide, including 75 priests in the United States and a seminary and novitiate in Connecticut. Father Marcial Maciel Degollado founded the Legionaries of Christ in his native Mexico in 1941. The published mission of the Legion is “Love Christ, serve people, build the church.”
In March, the Vatican ordered an apostolic visitation, a form of internal church investigation ordered by the pope and performed by his delegates, of the institutions of the Legionaries of Christ following disclosures of sexual impropriety by the order’s late founder.
Rev. Mr. Sutter, in response to an e-mail, wrote it “has been hard to learn very difficult news” about the founder, but he sees the investigation as a “sign of … closeness” between the order and the Vatican.
“The Apostolic Visitation is a sign of this closeness that will help us become all our Lord Jesus Christ wants us to be for the good of the universal church and humanity. We have to deal with these facts and the Church is guiding us,” he wrote.
Rev. Mr. Sutter wrote that he wants to “collaborate faithfully with the Holy Spirit in bringing this mission of ours to the future generations for the greater glory of God.”