From Quaker to Catholic, Br. George shares his journey


Courtesy / Br. George Rumley, O.S.B.

Br. George Rumley, O.S.B., Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci, and seven RCIA candidates smile at the RCIA Mass in 2022.

Kathryn Williams, Editor in Chief

If you walk into the Office of Campus Ministry on any given day, you are likely to meet Brother George Rumley, O.S.B. You will first recognize him by his kind smile and welcoming presence. Eventually, you’ll recognize him by his quick witted comebacks and love for the term “y’all.” 

Br. Georgeworks to familiarize and prepare students who plan to enter the Catholic faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA). He is especially well suited for this role as he himself went through the RCIA program at the age of 27 after being raised in the Quaker tradition in North Carolina.

“I grew up as a believing Christian. My mother’s family has been Quaker for generations,” said Br. George. What makes the Quakers different from other branches is that they are “spiritualized” and they do not have any sacraments. “If you’re baptized you don’t need water to do it, you just need a decision,” he explained. In a traditional service there would be total silence until someone felt moved by the spirit to speak. He described the community as “loving, very small, but closed off from the rest of the world.” 

After falling away from his faith in college and graduating in 2004, he attended law school for one month. “I just wanted to do something prestigious that would make me money, but I felt like I was in the wrong place. Looking back on it, it was like God pulling the rug out from under me,” said Br. George. 

He returned to his home in North Carolina and began to re-engage with his faith. He spent time in his aunt’s remote cabin in the woods without TV or internet. “In a very real way it was like God brought me here to say, ‘get your life together because you haven’t been paying attention.’” At the end of this time, he decided to pursue a degree at a Protestant seminary to learn more about his faith and teach. 

This experience turned out to be a pivotal moment in his conversion. “The Catholic Church of course came up in a lot of my classes. I found myself in this strange position of defending the Catholic Church at a Protestant seminary,” explained Br. George. He also went to an Episcopalian church nearby where he experienced symbolic communion for the first time. “All of these things led me step by step to wanting to investigate the Catholic Church.”

Thus began his journey to conversion. He shared how he ordered a rosary and guide on Amazon, but was unsure of how to go about praying to Mary. “Before I prayed the rosary for the first time I said, ‘God, I’m sorry if this pisses you off. This might be really offensive to you.’” At the end of that year in seminary, he returned home to go through RCIA and learn more about the faith. “I enrolled in the program and went every week. I loved it. At no point did I stop and think that I had made a mistake, it just continued to grow on me,” said Br. George.

His conversion came as a shock to his family, but he shared how thankful he is for their love and support even though they struggled to understand it all. “All of a sudden I started getting phone calls from people I haven’t heard from in years. I got really good at fielding their questions, but it did take a toll on many relationships,” he explained. 

Brother George was received into the Church in April 2007. “I had a commission lined up as an Air Force officer, but I didn’t go through with that because I thought it was more important to stick with fostering this newfound faith,” he said. After working in service with Americorps and a brief stint discerning the Franciscan order, Br. George entered Belmont Abbey in 2013. He completed graduate school at the University of Dallas and seminary at Saint Meinrad in Illinois. Brother George professed solemn vows in 2017 alongside Br. Amadeus Cundiff, O.S.B.

When problems began to surface at Belmont Abbey, Brother George was faced with the difficult decision of transferring or exiting the monastery. Br. Amadeus had already transferred to Saint Anselm Abbey, and Br. George knew Fr. Aloysius Sarasin, O.S.B. ’17 from seminary. After hearing how wonderful the Abbey was from the two monks already there, he decided to direct his transfer north to New Hampshire. He began his probationary period at the Abbey in 2021. The monks will vote this coming August to decide if he will become a permanent member of the community. “Assuming they vote me in, I can begin the process of getting ordained to the diaconate and then priesthood… likely six months or so as a deacon and then priesthood,” Br. George explained.

Currently, Br. George works as a Conversatio professor and in the Office of Campus Ministry. “I love seeing the enthusiasm on people’s faces as they’re discovering a lot of the same things that I did, it reawakens some of my zeal,” said Br. George. “My own RCIA class was taught by a convert so it’s like giving back,” he continued. 

Last year Br. George worked with seven students in the RCIA program and called it one of the best moments he has ever experienced. “I felt like a proud father. It was really cool to see them receive the same sacraments I did, and to see the joy on everyone’s faces.”

This year, nine students have been going through the RCIA program and will enter into the Catholic Church at the 7pm Mass on Sunday, April 16, 2023. Br. George said that the RCIA Mass is “a great witness to the rest of the student body,” as peers come together to support and welcome one another, reinforcing their faith as well. 

While he awaits the monastery’s vote in August, Br. George is filled with gratitude for the support of his family back home and the Anselmian community. “I love Saint A’s and New Hampshire, even though people don’t drink sweet tea,” said Br. George. He noted that the southerners have been victorious in getting grits at the monastery. If he professes solemn vows, he will continue to work on trying to get the community to use the term “y’all.”