Saturday, January 04, 2014

RIP: Father Robert Nugent, co-founder of LGBT Catholic group New Ways Ministry

In memory of
Father Robert Nugent

Co-founder of New Ways Ministry, priest silenced for work with lesbian and gay Catholics

July 31, 1937 - Jan. 1, 2014

white candle Pictures, Images and Photos

I light a memorial candle for Father Robert Nugent, who died Jan. 1, 2014 at age 76.

Nugent was a Roman Catholic priest who was silenced for his work with lesbian and gay people. He co-founded New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBT people in church and society.

In 1971 Nugent met Sister Jeannine Gramick.  She was doing pastoral work with lesbian and gay Catholics who were rejected by the church for their sexual orientation. He joined her and in 1977 they co-founded New Ways Ministry as a national resource and advocacy center for lesbian and gay Catholics, pastoral leaders, and family members. For decades the pair traveled nationwide promoting a more inclusive church and facing disapproval from many church leaders.

New Ways Ministry executive director Francis DeBernardo described Nugent’s impact in the announcement of his death at the organization’s blog:

“When few priests would do more than whisper about homosexuality, Father Nugent was meeting with lesbian and gay people and encouraging them to claim their rightful place in the Catholic Church. During a time of intense homophobia in both church and society, he exhibited uncommon courage and foresight in welcoming and affirming the goodness of God’s lesbian and gay children.”

In 1999-2000 the Vatican condemned New Ways Ministry, ordered Nugent to stop pastoral ministry within the lesbian and gay community, and directed him to ceased speaking and writing about LGBT rights. He continued to express God’s love for queer people privately and in small groups until the end of his life.

Nugent is also the author or coeditor of several books including “A Challenge to Love: Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the Church” and “Building Bridges: Gay and Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Church.”

As far as I’m concerned, any Catholic priest who dared to advocate for lesbian and gay people way back in the early 1970s is already a saint -- especially if he was outspoken enough to be silenced by the Vatican.

Now the pioneering prophet known as Father Bob makes the transition from earthly life to eternal life, where he can become our newest advocate among the saints.

Related links:

Fr. Bob Nugent, silenced for his work with gay Catholics, dies at 76 (National Catholic Reporter)

Reflecting on the Life and Ministry of Father Robert Nugent (Bondings 2.0, blog of New Ways Ministry)

This post is part of the GLBT Saints series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, prophets, witnesses, heroes, holy people, humanitarians, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and queer people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.

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Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

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