By Isaac Withers John Henry Newman is one of history’s most famous converts, his conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism in 1845 is in many ways the turning point of his story. However, it is important for us to understand the context of this change – it would be a mistake for us to think that to convert from one denomination of Christianity to another then was what it is like now. Catholics had been reviled and persecuted in England for centuries after the reformation, with it only becoming legal for Catholics to sit in the Parliament of Westminster with the passing of ‘The Roman Catholic Relief Act’ in 1829.
By Sr. Bianca Feuerstein FSO Littlemore is approximately three miles away from the city centre of Oxford and was a poor hamlet in Newman’s time. When Newman became Vicar of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in 1828, he accepted along with this task the pastoral care of Littlemore which had been part of the parish for many centuries. The village owes to Newman the building of the Anglican church of St Mary and St Nicholas, as well as the building of a school. In 1841 Newman chose to live at Littlemore to help him find an answer in his search for the truth. He leased a former coach staging post and transformed the long-stretched building into a house adapted to his needs. The stable was converted into a library, and the barn into cottages. This house would later be called “The College”.
John Henry Newman begins his reflection on Christian Manhood with this well known Bible verse: ‘When I was a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ 1 Corinthians 13:11
For Newman, it is the Holy Spirit who brings us from being spiritually childlike, to becoming spiritually mature. He points out that when Jesus leaves His disciples he, ‘called His disciples orphans; children, as it were … who were still unable to direct themselves, and who were soon to lose their Protector.’
By Andrew Nash We are used to thinking of John Henry Newman as a great theologian, but it is often forgotten that he saw himself primarily as a teacher. ‘Education’ he once said, ‘has always been my line’. As a young Oxford don at Oriel College in the 1820s, Newman was one of the college’s Tutors, supervising students individually.
By Joanna Bogle There are many reasons to rejoice at John Henry Newman’s canonisation. He is a man for us all: an inspiring teacher, a man who answered some of the deepest questions asked about the Christian faith in an era of change, a voice for religious freedom, a searcher for truth.