Morning Fill Up with Fr. Robert "Bud" Grant, PhD

Environmentalist, author and professor

Held February 18, 2016 at 7am at The garage

Fr. Robert "Bud" Grant, PhD is an environmentalist, professor, author and Catholic priest. For the February 2016 Morning Fill Up series, he discussed redistributive suffering to heal the planet and responses to environmental crises. 

Born the seventh of nine children in rural Southwest Iowa, he grew up playing "knights in shining armor" by using bikes and brooms to joust with his siblings. He holds the distinction of being the youngest paper boy for the Omaha World Herald ever (he was nine when he started). He remembers specifically where he was when JFK was assassinated, RFK was shot, the space shuttle exploded, the Berlin wall came down, Iran was invaded, and Jerry Garcia died.

He received a Catholic education throughout his life, until attending the University of Iowa to earn his doctorate. While at Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, he became a tour guide of ancient Rome and learned how to play soccer. He admits to once blowing off his Hebrew final exam in order to go to soccer practice, and never made it up. Still, he did complete a certificate in Latin from Rev. Reginald (“Reggie” to his disciples) Foster, of which he says he is more proud of than any other academic degree he has.

After studying in Rome, Fr. Bud returned to the United States and realized he knew more about Roman history than Midwestern America, so with the help of an elderly Native American couple, he taught himself Lakota spirituality… there not being enough American history to make it worthwhile.

As a Catholic priest, he has served in three rural parishes in Western Iowa, where he learned about farming, the farm crisis, and the shift toward industrial agriculture. He has practiced social justice activism in defense of the family farm—without, he admits, much support from the family farmers he was supporting. Today, he maintains a small farm with two horses, sheep, poultry, two cats and his dog, Mary. He practices buditarianism, which means that he can eat meat if he raised it, it is native, it is a cultural experience, or he is "pouting about something."

Fr. Bud has spent years developing St. Ambrose University's signature general education program. He started the Academy for the Study of St. Ambrose of Milan, forged relationships with the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and the Universita Cattolica di Sacro Cuore—both in Milan, Italy, published and presented papers on St. Ambrose internationally, wrote two novels and a dozen or so short stories, and serves in a small rural parish as a pastor.

He lectures, publishes, and writes a monthly op-ed on environmental theology, and travels the upper Midwest offering lectures and public presentations to both religious and secular organizations. With the issue of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, he has had 42 speaking engagements in the past six months.

A few jaw-dropping facts about Fr. Bud:

  • He once nearly knocked down St. Mother Theresa.
  • He once nearly knocked down St. John Paul II.
  • He has been kissed by Maria von Trapp (no, not Julie Andrews... the actual Maria von Trapp).
  • He hasn't had a TV or a bed for about 30 years.
  • He once helped the FBI solve a crime using his Latin skills, and once had the highest Secret Service clearing one can get.
I heard a point of view that justified, validated and reminded me of the things I believe and feel right to me. And yet, more importantly, I also heard things that challenged my way of thinking—new paradigms with which to discern right and wrong that help me live a more meaningful life. That’s what conversations should be about.
— An Attendee of Morning Fill Up with Fr. Robert "Bud" Grant, PhD

news coverage

"Priest and Professor Father “Bud” Grant On Climate Change", South Dakota Public Broadcasting, February 19, 2016