Faithful excited for Newman's canonization

Friday, March 15, 2019 - Updated: 2:17 pm

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

Blessed John Henry Newman is highly regarded because of the depth of his thoughts and the way he was able to bring an ancient church with tradition into conversation with the modern world through his style of writing, Elizabeth Farnsworth said.

“It’s really prevalent and relevant today,” said Farnsworth, who is managing editor of the Newman Studies Journal and communications coordinator for the National Institute for Newman Studies in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

Blessed Newman, a cardinal, scholar and founder of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England, was approved for canonization by Pope Francis on April 13. A canonization date has not been set, but it is expected to come in the fall. Blessed Newman was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham, England, in 2010.

Originally an Anglican priest, Blessed Newman converted to Catholicism in 1845 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1847. His writings are considered to be among the most important in the church in recent centuries.

Dr. Ryan “Bud” Marr, director of the National Institute for Newman Studies and associate editor of the Newman Studies Journal, pointed out that both Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict recognized Blessed Newman for his courage in following his conscience. Newman left a fellowship at Oxford University to join the Catholic Church.

“He felt convicted that it was the community founded by Christ,” Marr said of Blessed Newman’s conversion. “He left behind a comfortable life.”

Marr noted that there has already been an “uptick” in traffic on the institute’s website since the announcement of the canonization. Many Catholics, he said, have a strong devotion to Newman, and the Newman centers at state and secular universities bear further witness to his legacy. And as a convert to Catholicism himself, Marr said that Newman’s writings address many of the questions people are looking for in their struggle to find answers about religion.

Marr added that while Blessed Newman was not present at the First Vatican Council (1869-70), his voice was heard through letter writing and his friendships with many of the participants. Marr is available to speak at parishes, schools and apostolates about Blessed Newman or topics related to him.

The Institute for Newman Studies, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Duquesne University, is located in the Gailliot Center for Newman Studies, 211 N. Dithridge St. It provides resources for scholars dedicated to promoting the study of Blessed Newman’s life, influence and work. Its private research library maintains the most comprehensive and accessible collection of Newman-related texts in both print and digital formats in North America.

Marr also said that all of Blessed Newman’s papers in Birmingham have been scanned, and it is hoped that sometime this year — or certainly in the near future — people will be able to go to the institute’s website and access a digital library where they can view high-quality images of the papers.

In conjunction with Duquesne, the NINS will present the 2019 Spring Newman Lecture and Symposium March 14 at 7 p.m. and March 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gailliot Center. 

The March 14 plenary speaker will be Dr. William Portier, Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic theology at the University of Dayton. The March 15 symposium will feature Dr. Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University; Dr. Thomas Albert Howard, professor of humanities and Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University; Dr. Kristin Colberg, St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary; and Dr. Shaun Blanchard, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University.

A “Lenten Journey Through Newman’s Sermons” will be presented March 11, 18 and 25, and April 1 and 8 from 7-8 p.m. at the institute.

When Father Vincent Giese, founder of the Venerable John Henry Newman Association (the present Newman Association of America), passed away in 2000, he left behind an extensive Newman collection. In 2002, Oratory Father Drew Morgan and Catherine Ryan, at the time board members of the VJHNA, began to envision a center where scholars could access Newman and Newman-related documents and materials. The idea grew into the National Institute for Newman Studies. The collection was brought to Pittsburgh in 2002.

The first Newman scholar was welcomed to the institute in 2003, and the Newman Studies Journal was established a year later. The digitization of published works was initiated in 2005, and the Gailliot Center for Newman Studies opened in 2007. The institute established its affiliation with Duquesne in 2010 and reached an agreement with the Birmingham Oratory on the digitization of Newman’s handwritten works in 2013.

More information is available by visiting www.newmanstudies.org, e-mailing office@ninsdu.org or by calling 412-681-4375.

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