Stephen Augustine1 first became involved in G.K. Chesterton groups about 1997: reading and attending conferences/discussions/performances. He, and his wife, started a local group in 2013 which successfully ran for four years until health problems (now much improved) required turning it over to others (although they remain active in a local Chesterton group).
In the meantime, after finding connections between Chesterton and Fr. Dudley, he started reading Fr. Dudley in 2012. Unable to find any biography, organization, or experts on Fr. Dudley, he started researching, and first gave presentations to local Chesterton groups comparing and contrasting the two authors in 2014. See the Research page for a summary of the ongoing research.
A Facebook page for Owen Francis Dudley had been established by a wonderful, but busy, Catholic in 2011. In 2015, Stephen offered to help, and later in the year that Facebook editor assisted in setting up this page (although Stephen is solely responsible for its editorial content).
Religious background. Stephen was raised Protestant (Methodist) and had even considered becoming a minister, but largely fell away from Christianity by the time he was 20–considering himself agnostic. (In part that was because he did not see in Scripture the theology that he had been taught, and at the time Catholicism did not seem worthy of consideration–due to his Protestant, and increasingly secular, prejudice.) When he was 40, initially based upon natural law type considerations, he started re-examining religion, and became a Catholic two years later in 1991.
As a Catholic, Stephen found a cornucopia of theology, wisdom, art, spirituality, history, etc. that has never ceased to utterly fascinate: he voraciously read a wide range of Catholic periodicals and books, attended many retreats and conferences (as well as a number of graduate-level courses at Christendom College).
Although Stephen was in high school during Vatican II, he was not Catholic, and so when he entered the Church, the modern approach seemed a given: simply what Catholicism was. So it’s not surprising that he became quite active in Regnum Christi, and also had considerable experience with Opus Dei–orthodox, but newer, approaches.
Still, his conversion was based, in part, upon the belief that the Church you see being built up on Acts and the Epistles is the Catholic Church…that truth is eternal…that basic human nature does not change…and that we should think in centuries. Perhaps it is telling that his first major decision was to become an Oblate of St. Benedict (until changing, with permission, to an Augustinian 3rd Order in recent years). Although there was noting especially traditional about the Benedictine Abbey, the Rule itself imparted a sense of timelessness.
He didn’t attended his first traditional Latin Mass until 1998, and then began thinking the division between orthodox Catholics–in light of Scripture’s almost obsessive concern over unity and charity. This concern received emphasis with the homeschooling war of 1999–an unedifying conflict better forgotten. Further conflicts followed which did not seem necessary nor helpful. He started writing about it, but most of those thoughts will be published for the first time in Fr. Dudley Today.
Professional background. After military service, Stephen went to college to study law enforcement and legal studies. After receiving his BA, he spent 5 years in law enforcement before transferring into the field of Personnel/Human Resources (HR) where he remained until retiring as Director of Human Resources for an independent Federal agency.
This background has informed Stephen’s views of current Church issues, and has impacted the approach of this website. Aquinas famously noted that grace builds upon nature, and so ordinary communications prudence is something to consider.
As Training Officer, Stephen attended professional development classes, as well as graduate level classes, on effective training–and wrote and presented training. As Labor Relations Officer, he wrote a wide variety of documents where clarity was critical–not to mention the need for effective oral communication. Writing agency directives and employee newsletters required clear, effective communication. And write ups of investigations into alleged employee misconduct, as well as proposals and decisions regarding discipline, were documents subject to litigation. Finally, managing, teaching management, and addressing management problems, taught valuable lessons.
When you communicate (orally or in writing) you try to anticipate where the problems will likely occur–and that really is usually not very hard. You avoid loaded terms and wording that plays into the paradigms of those opposing you. If you must state something which could be misconstrued, then you put a strong clarification right next to that section. And so on…
To use a well known example: the bowing to the ground before statues (sometimes claimed to be “Pachamama”) on the Vatican grounds in the presence of the Vicar of Christ–pictures of which were broadcasted to the whole world. (This is the type of issue addressed in the Fr. Dudley Today section.) The issue here would not be whether this was “heresy”, “blasphemy”, or “idolatry”: while those are very important questions, they will not be addressed on this website. Rather, the concern here would be whether this was prudent communication that best emphasized the centrality of Christ and a rejection of paganism. For example, what was the positive value in not providing clear explanations?