In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, Pope John Paul II lists some priorities for pastoral care in the new millennium. Above all he recalls the vocation of all Christians to holiness. “First of all, I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness”. A modern guide to holiness is John Henry Newman.
Sr. Kathleen Dietz, FSO
“Such were the thoughts concerning the ‘Blessed Vision of Peace,’ of one whose long-continued petition had been that the Most Merciful would not despise the work of His own Hands, nor leave him to himself;-while yet his eyes were dim, and his breast laden, and he could but employ Reason in the things of Faith” (Dev., 445).
It’s no secret that the Catholic Church has been rocked with scandals over the past several years. Nor is it a secret that the media has enjoyed a heyday of scandal-mongering and Pope-bashing. Nonetheless, a recent
Sr. Lutgart Govaert FSO
“If Mary is the Mother of God, Christ must be literally Emmanuel, God with us. And hence it was, that, when time went on, and the bad spirits and false prophets grew stronger and bolder, and found a way into the Catholic body itself, then the Church, guided by God, could find no more effectual and sure way of expelling them than that of using this word Deipara, ‘Mother of God” against them; and, on the other hand, when they came up again from the realms of darkness, and plotted the utter overthrow of Christian faith in the sixteenth Century, then they could find no more certain expedient for their hateful purpose than that of reviling and blaspheming the prerogatives of Mary, for they knew full well that, if they could once get the world do dishonour the Mother, the dishonour of the Son would follow close. The Church and Satan agreed together in this, that Son and Mother went together”.
Westminster Cathedral, 2nd May 2009
It is fitting to recall and to give thanks for past benefits of which we are the beneficiaries down to the present day. That is particularly appropriate on the occasion of an anniversary of jubilee. Our celebration today has precisely this purpose: we commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the foundation of The Oratory School by John Henry Cardinal Newman.
1. Newman on the eve of his elevation to the office of cardinal
The elevation of John Henry Newman to the dignity of the office of cardinal can be seen as the apotheosis of his sorely tried life. Thus, one ought to attribute to him the full and definitive rehabilitation of the thinker-theologian, subjected to mysterious accusations, malevolent insinuations and systematic criticism for many years. One need only consider the drastic judgement of Monsignor Talbot, Chamberlain to Pius IX, and one of Newman’s most implacable adversaries. He was principally responsible for the diffidence within Roman circles shown to the convert and for the measures taken following upon this attitude, including those which impeded him from returning to Oxford.  Talbot wrote to Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster, hoping to find a sympathetic ear: “Dr. Newman is the most dangerous man in England.”
In the idea of “development” Newman had written his own experience of an ever finished conversion and interpreted for us, not only the way of Christian doctrine, but that of the Christian life. The characteristic of the great doctor of the Church, it seems to me, is that he teaches not only through his thought and speech, but also by his life, because within him thought and life are interpenetrated and defined. If this is so, then Newman belongs to the great teachers of the Church, because he both touches our hearts and enlightens our thinking
Sr. Mary-Birgit Dechant FSO
What better way in which to begin than with Newman’s own words, taken from one of his homilies on St Paul, and to make them my own:
“Most unworthy of him, I know, is the best that I can say; and even that best I cannot duly exhibit in the space of time allowed me on an occasion such as this, but what is said out of devotion to him, and for the divine glory, will, I trust, have its use, defective though it be.” (SVO 94)
By Fr. Peter Willi, Rome
John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801- 1890) ranks among the most famous converts of the Roman Catholic Church. H. J. Coleridge, S.J. wrote in an obituary: “The process of a true conversion is not often without something of the shadow of the cross upon it, but in the case of the Cardinal it was a veritable birth-pang. It was this that made him in the most true sense the father of many souls – he had passed through all their difficulties beforehand for them.” 
Unforgettable was the afternoon at “The College” at Littlemore, when the Holy Eucharist was exposed in Newman’s oratory, and some of the Sisters of the Spiritual Family The Work knelt in silent adoration before the Lord. Suddenly the sliding door opened. Someone came in and fell to his knees. Later in the College garden, when the Sisters welcomed the tall, slender gentleman, almost Newman-like, with his shock of white hair, he was deeply moved and explained: “Sorry for the commotion; I had not expected Eucharistic adoration at this simple place of prayer, hallowed though it is.” And then he said something like: “It was a gift for me, as if the Lord had spoken!”