A priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville began a new assignment July 1 more than 600 miles from the seat of the diocese.
In April, Father Gladstone “Bud” Stevens was named rector of Theological College, the national seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Father Stevens, who is originally from Connecticut and grew up in Nashville, was ordained a priest here in 2000.
He has been a member of the Society of St. Sulpice — a society of diocesan priests dedicated to educating and supporting fellow priests — since 2002. During that time, he served as academic dean and vice rector of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore and as academic dean, vice rector and rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif.
“I’ve been at this for 20 years,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s been helpful having experiences at different seminaries, learning different rhythms and traditions of each school. Especially being in California for those many years, the multicultural experience was invaluable getting ready for this role.”
Heading into his new assignment, Father Stevens said he has two main focal points: enrollment and implementing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ updated document on priestly formation. The document, called “Program of Priestly Formation in the United States of America,” guides seminaries and priestly vocation programs that form men for the priesthood. It focuses on four dimensions: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.
In terms of enrollment, Father Stevens said he wants to help strengthen the student body, “not just in terms of numbers but also the quality that Theological College has enjoyed.”
He said he’s looking forward to working with the staff and vocations directors and that a “huge part” of the process will be getting to know the students one-on-one.
As for the priestly formation document, the latest edition was released in fall 2022 and it will go into effect Aug. 1.
“All seminaries are working to ascertain the best way to implement this document,” he said. “It could be a good opportunity” to make important and lasting changes that help to serve seminarians better.
“Applied intelligently, it could be of good service to the priesthood and the church.”
Father Stevens has met with Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory and president of The Catholic University of America Peter Kilpatrick along with other staff members and said he’s ready to meet students and get to work.
“I think it’s going to be a good fit, I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve met so far, there are some good collaborators I’m looking forward to working with,” he said.
Above all else, he said he stays mindful of those he serves.
“Whenever I think about my work in seminary ministry, I’m mindful that the people I serve are the people of God,” he said. “I ask myself, ‘Is this man, is this candidate going to be a good priest to the faithful?’ The people in the pew are the first and foremost in my mind when I’m doing this work.”