This Fellowship takes its name from Blessed John Henry Newman, the eminent 19th-century English cleric who began his religious life as an Evangelical Anglican and ended it as a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
Blessed John Henry Newman is our Patron because of the spiritual and theological pilgrimage he made from Anglo-Catholicism to the Catholic Church. We identify with the personal journey on which God led him, as our minds and hearts have been stirred to embrace the See of Peter as essential to the claim of being Catholic. We identify with him as the Anglican tradition shaped and forged his soul for the great step he took. We ask him to pray for us as we face the costs and the challenges of entering the Catholic Church. We pray that our lives and spirits reflect the same faith, humility, and joy in the Lord that characterized his life.
The best single online source for all of Newman's works, as well as for biographical information, is The Newman Reader, a project of The National Institute for Newman Studies.
Also informative are the Wikipedia article on Newman, and this review, by Eamon Duffy in the New York Review of Books, of John Cornwell's Newman's Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint (2010).
A video tribute to Newman may be viewed on YouTube.
As an immediate introduction to the personality and prose of Blessed John Henry Newman, please consider two brief writings – the verses of the Hymn, “Lead Kindly Light,” and Newman's words on “My Vocation."
What Newman wrote came from the real stuff of living as a priest, who wrestled with the ultimate questions of trusting in God, seeking His aid and guidance, and coming to a deeper understanding of his own unique personhood and vocation as a child of God. Both writings speak of journeys in faith – what he learned and what we are to learn about God, His ways, and ourselves. With both, place yourself in the first person, taking the words of Newman unto yourself. They are his, but they are instructive for us.
LEAD, KINDLY LIGHT
Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.
God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission – I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good. I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life; He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me – still He knows what He is about.