Fr Gregory died peacefully at St Joseph’s Home, Harborne, on Wednesday January 18th. He was 89 years old, and had been a member of the Oratory Community for nearly fifty one years and a priest for nearly forty nine years.
The second great area of his work concerned the Cause for Cardinal Newman’s canonisation. Opened in 1958, the Cause had not made much progess apart from the publication, at regular intervals, of Newman’s vast ‘Letters and Diaries’.
In 1973, Pope Paul VI enquired whether it would be possible to beatify Newman during the course of the 1975 Holy Year. Of course things were nowhere near ready but, galvanised by Papal interest, Fr Gregory devoted increasing amounts of time to furthering the matter. Founding ‘The Friends of Cardinal Newman’ in 1976, giving talks and lectures to deepen knowledge and love of the Cardinal, producing pamphlets and prayerbooks, his work proved successful and interest grew year by year. Combined with the work of Fr Vincent Blehl as Postulator, significant developments occurred, a particular milestone being the Declaration by Pope John Paul II of Newman’s heroic virtues in 1991. After that another eighteen years elapsed before Cardinal Newman’s beatification at the unforgettable Mass at Cofton Park on September 19th 2010. The moment when Fr Gregory was presented to Pope Benedict XVI and, later that same day, when they met at the Oratory House, provided unforgettable pictures: two men in their eighties—one (the Pope) a devoted student of Newman, the other (Fr Gregory) the tireless advocate of Newman’s holiness. It was the culmination of half a life-time’s hard work for Fr Gregory.
extract of the homily given at the Birmingham Oratory on 22nd January 2012
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