Father Robert Nugent is a member of the Religious Order "the Society of the Divine Savior". He was born, educated in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and ordained for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1965.
He was engaged in various ministries in Philadelphia until 1975 when he joined the Salvatorians and relocated to Maryland. He was a co-director of the Quixote Center in Mt. Rainier, Maryland, a Catholic peace and justice group, and also served for two years as Chaplain at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
In 1967, with Sister Jeannine Gramick, Nugent co-founded New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic center for research and advocacy ministry in the area of Catholicism and homosexuality also located in Mt. Rainier, in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.
Until 1984 he was engaged in counseling, consultation, writing, lecturing, retreats, workshops and seminars dealing with gay and lesbian issues and religion. He traveled widely both throughout the U.S. and abroad educating church professionals, pastoral ministers and parents and families about homosexuality.
In 1984, under pressure from the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Nugent was forced to resign from New Ways Ministry but continued his work as a private individual or under various auspices. He is the founder of Catholic Parents Network for parents of Catholic gay and lesbian individuals. He is the author of numerous academic and popular journal articles in Catholic and other publications, including contributions to several anthologies.
He is also the author or coeditor of several books including A Challenge to Love: Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the Church; Prayer Journey for Persons with AIDS; Building Bridges: Gay and Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Church and Voices of Hope: a collection of positive Catholic writings on gay and lesbian issues.
Nugent's pioneering work has been recognized with awards from many groups including Washington P-FLAG, Yale Divinity School, the Paulist Center in Boston, Dignity USA and several Dignity chapters. He has spoken in parishes, colleges and universities, military installations and professional organizations of chaplains.
He holds degrees in theology and religious education from Yale Divinity School and the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) and a degree in Library Science from Villanova University.
In 1999, after a ten-year Vatican initiated study of his work, he was forced by the Vatican to withdraw from ministry to gay and lesbian people and their families. One year later, he was silenced from speaking or writing about homosexuality. He remains a priest in good standing and is, with Church approval, engaged in parish ministry in Pennsylvania and other locations throughout the country.