At least a few times a year I am asked why many of the Catholic campus ministries at our local colleges are called "Newman" communities. John Henry Cardinal Newman, the namesake of these communities, was a 19th-century convert from Anglicanism who profoundly influenced both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches over the course of his life. His writing on the idea of a university, as well as his great intellectual giftedness and generosity of spirit, inspired many Catholic communities on college campuses to take on his name.
This Sunday, Sept. 19, in Birmingham, England, Pope Benedict will declare Cardinal Newman "blessed," a step further on the path to canonization. It is unusual for Pope Benedict to preside at a beatification. Typically he only personally participates in the final stage of a declaration of a saint, to show the distinction between beatification and sainthood. However, for Pope Benedict has made an exception for Cardinal Newman. It is a testament to the importance of Newman’s work and ministry in the life of our pope.
Excerpts of Cardinal Newman’s writings may be found on the website for the cause of his canonization, as can biographical information and explanations about the process of canonization. Take some time this weekend to enjoy learning about this complex and inspiring man.