At the Theological College opening Mass on August 27, Father Gladstone “Bud” Stevens was installed as the 18th rector. The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, presided over a Mass which was honored by 26 concelebrants, among whom were Auxiliary Bishop Evelio Menjivar-Ayala, of the Archdiocese of Washington; Msgr. Walter Rossi, Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; Gregory Schnakenberg, O.P., Prior of Dominican House of Studies; Msgr. John Paul Pedrera, representative of the Apostolic Nuncio; Rev. Carter Griffin, Rector of the Saint John Paul II Seminary; former TC rectors Rev. Lawrence Terrien, P.S.S., and Rev. Mel Blanchette, P.S.S., along with several other Sulpician Fathers. Rev. Ron Witherup, P.S.S., former Sulpician Superior General, offered gracious opening remarks and later introduced Fr. Stevens as an excellent, highly qualified candidate for rector to Cardinal Gregory, who confirmed the proceedings.
Cardinal Gregory’s homily on the apropos reading (Romans 11:33-36) was concluded by underlining the connection between the identity of Peter as the Rock of the Church to the identity of Fr. Stevens as new rector. Addressing him, the Cardinal supportively asserted, “You will have an opportunity to serve the Lord’s people, like the commission of Peter in today’s Gospel. Such responsibility will bring challenges and, occasionally, some anguish. Yet, when done with a generous spirit, it will also bring all the graces needed to fulfill your responsibilities and the joy and satisfaction of seeing the young men entrusted to your care advance in the ways of holiness in life. May your service as rector to TC help you and all under your care discover in faith the true identity of Christ, and hence to bring him to others with intense joy.”
After leading the congregation in the Profession of the Faith and pronouncing and signing the Oath of Fidelity as rector, Fr. Stevens offered some remarks inspired by a surprise gift he received that morning from his sisters, Pamela Stevens and Dr. Sandra Stevens, who attended the installation. “Pelagianism is the most pernicious of all heresies precisely because it denies the absolute necessity for grace. The gift of a new Liturgy of the Hours from my sisters reminded me that everything in ministry must begin with, be sustained by, and lead to ever deeper prayerful encounters with Christ. The work of priestly formation begins with Christ’s compassion upon the crowd who were like sheep without a shepherd. The whole work of the seminary must be an extension of the Lord’s compassion and his promise that he would send them shepherds.”
The close collaboration that Fr. Stevens has already begun to engage in with the University was evidenced by the supportive presence, among others, of President Peter Kilpatrick; Dr. Aaron Dominguez, Provost; Dean of the School of Philosophy and Theology, Dr. John McCarthy; and Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies, Dr. Joseph Capizzi. All were invited to celebrate with Fr. Stevens’ family, close friends, and TC faculty, staff, and seminarians at a convivial reception in Olier Hall.
The entire Theological College–Catholic University community is filled with gratitude for the seminary’s new shepherd, and pray for a fruitful and joyful formation year ahead.