The influence of a 19th-century English theologian has spawned Catholic campus ministries across the United States known as Newman Centers, Newman Societies and Newman Communities — including three in the Diocese of Rochester.
Catholic groups at SUNY College at Brockport, SUNY College at Geneseo and the University of Rochester all bear the Newman name. Yet even when he doesn’t appear in the title, Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-90) has likely played some sort of role in shaping most Catholic ministries for students at secular colleges.
Venerable Newman was a former Anglican priest who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1845. He was ordained in 1847 and was made cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. He penned several key writings encouraging the formulation of societies for Catholic students attending secular universities.
The first collegiate Newman organization in the United States was begun at the University of Pennsylvania in 1893, approximately 15 years after Venerable Newman originated what would become the Newman Society at Oxford University. Newman groups have particularly flourished in the United States during the last half-century, in response to the Second Vatican Council’s emphasis on ecumenical relationships.
Cardinal Newman was given the title venerable in 1991 by Pope John Paul II. In early July 2009 Pope Benedict XVI approved Venerable Newman for beatification in 2010, which will leave him one step short of achieving sainthood.