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Keith Ruble honored for care of creation

“Be a shelter to someone,” Keith Ruble reads from the book “The Things Trees Know” in acknowledging the trees planted in his honor near the log cabin chapel at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Father John Bamman, right, of Saint Joseph University Parish and Sister Denise Wilkinson, left, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, members of the media and friends look on.

To see Keith Ruble in his element, one has only to accompany him into nature. His love for and wisdom of nature are unmistakable, and he is willing to share it.

On Nov. 15, Saint Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute’s Catholic Social Ministry Committee honored Ruble by dedicating five dogwood trees in his honor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods near the log cabin chapel that Ruble helped to construct.

Ruble recently retired after nearly 40 years as the Vigo County Parks superintendent. He has attended Saint Joseph Church for more than four decades.

“We wanted to raise up to others a person who was an example of good stewardship of God’s creation,” said Rita Burns Senseman, chair of the Catholic Social Ministry Committee at St. Joseph’s.

“Hopefully this recognition will serve not only as an honor for Keith but to inspire others to care for God’s good Earth,” she said.

Susan Ruble, Keith’s “first wife” of 42 years, says that Keith’s connection to nature is just a part of who he is.

“It’s in everything he does; he’ll go out in the woods and just look at the trees. He’ll notice all the changes, all the birds’ nests and the squirrels.”

“He doesn’t see himself as doing such wonderful, marvelous things – it’s just him,” she said.

Put Keith Ruble near a tree, and he’ll teach you about it. Here he explains that if you lean with your belly against a tree and look up you can see which way the tree is likely to grow. Ruble was recently recognized for his stewardship of Earth by the Catholic Social Ministry Committee at Saint Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute.

“Guardian, steward, builder,” are words inscribed on the dedication plaque to describe Ruble.

In acknowledging the recognition, Ruble read from the book “The Things Trees Know” by Douglas Wood.

“Be a shelter to someone.”

“Welcome rainy days.”

“Know that big trees are just little trees that keep growing.”

“Grow where you’re planted.”

“It’s really special,” Ruble said of the recognition. It’s a nice gesture to be recognized as a person who improves things and makes things nice with God’s creation.

And a tree in his honor seems just the right distinction.

“Trees are one of my favorite things,” he said. “Not only the living trees, but their wood. I enjoy working with wood.”

Perhaps his 20-plus hand-made log cabins are the wood projects Ruble is most known for, the log cabin chapel at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods among them. Ruble helped to recreate the chapel, finished in 2012, as a replica of the first place foundress Saint Mother Theodore Guerin visited when she arrived in 1840.

“It’s a neat place to have a tree planted in your honor, in a place where a saint lived,” Ruble said of the location at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

“Sometimes I sit here just to be quiet – it’s a really special place.”

Keith Ruble, second from left, poses with the log cabin chapel he helped to construct at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. With him are Linda Sturtevant, left, of Saint Joseph University Parish, and to Ruble’s right his wife Susan, granddaughter Abigail and daughter-in-law Kacie. In the foreground is one of the dogwood trees planted in Ruble’s honor and the plaque from Saint Joseph Parish recognizing Ruble as a “guardian, steward and builder.”

About the Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Advancement Services office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.
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