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October 9 - St. John Henry Newman

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordOctober 9, 2020

for the readings of today's mass, go to

Today throughout the world, there are celebrations in honour of the feast of one the newest saints of the Church, St. John Henry Newman, who was canonized last year on October 13th by Pope Francis.

Newman's life spanned the 19th century, and he was one of the most well-known figures in England during this time.  Ordained an Anglican priest in 1825, soon after, he became an important figure in the Oxford Movement of the Anglican Church, which called upon the Church of England to get more in touch and aligned with its Catholic roots.  

Newman's writings and sermons became well-known and well-received by many, but his continued theological meditations eventually led him to join the Roman Catholic Church in 1845.  By 1847 he had been ordained a Catholic priest and a member of the Oratory of St. Philp Neri, better known as the Oratorians.  He spent some time in England before heading to Dublin where he established the University College of Dublin.  During this time, he wrote one of his most influential and brilliant pieces, The Idea of a University, in which he outlined his philosophy of education , including the need for an education that allied faith and reason.  This tract eventually led to the establish of hundred of Newman Centres in universities throughout the English-speaking world, which would be chaplaincies  where Catholic university students could gather, reflect and grow in their faith.  There is a Newman Centre at the University of Toronto which I was privileged to serve as its Pastor from 2009-12.

Newman wrote any poems, such as The Dream of Gerontius which would later be set to music by the great English composer Edward Elgar in 1900.  Newman was named a Cardinal of the Church in 1879, and died in 1890.

There is so much more that could be said about this remarkable man of faith.  I would like to lead you to another one of his poems, Lead Kindly Light, which ended up became a beautiful hymn.  One such setting of this piece is by Sharon Hopkins, and the song is set depicting scenes in the life of Jesus.  The Youtube link follows.  St. John Henry Newman, pray for us.