Newman Centers to celebrate patron’s canonization locally and in Rome

Blessed John Henry Newman is seen in a portrait provided by the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Blessed John Henry Newman dedicated much of his life to the combination of faith and intellect at universities.

So it is only fitting that college Catholic student centers, many named after the upcoming saint plan to celebrate his Oct. 13 canonization with everything from lectures to watch parties and even pilgrimages to Rome for the event.

Among those making the pilgrimage to Rome will be a group from the largest Newman Center in the U.S. — St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

“To witness the canonization of John Henry Newman is something that I will be able to tell my future friends, future Newman Hall residents, and my kids one day,” said Anthony Burkhardt, a sophomore who will be joining three other students on an Oct. 11-17 trip led by Father Robert Lampitt, head chaplain.

The trip will also include visits to sacred and secular sites in Rome, a visit to Assisi, and a Wednesday audience with Pope Francis.

Those wishing to follow the pilgrimage of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center students to Rome this week may do so online at the following site:

James Kabbes, a senior studying mechanical engineering, will be posting daily blog posts on the site that will include photos, videos, and descriptions of the group’s daily activities. There will also be coverage of the pilgrimage in the next edition of The Catholic Post.


Cardinal Newman, the British scholar, philosopher, writer and Anglican priest before he was received into the Catholic Church, emphasized that Catholic students who attend public universities must be given a place to gather to support and encourage one another in their faith. That’s why his name is part of many Catholic student centers where Catholic college students meet for liturgies, prayer, service work, discussion groups, social events and often food.

“He was bold in the face of adversity standing with the Catholic Church against the disapproval of all his peers and superiors,” said Nicole Nussel, a fifth-year University of Illinois student majoring in geology. She called the pilgrimage to his canonization “an answer to my prayers” because she has visited the Holy Land and hoped to also visit Rome.

Cardinal Newman, she said, “is a great example and role model for college students who stand boldly and are persecuted for their faith.”

Another U of I Newman pilgrim, Aleesha Roessler, said she did not know much about Blessed Newman but is learning more and considers it a “gift” to be able to travel for the canonization. “I am beyond blessed, that’s for sure,” she told The Catholic Post.

Cardinal Newman spent much of his life at Oxford University as both a student and a fellow. As an Anglican priest, he was the vicar at a university church. After he became Catholic, he founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham, England and a Catholic university in Dublin. Many of his ideas on higher education are in his book “The Idea of a University” based on lectures he gave in the 1850s.

St. John’s Catholic Newman Center is also planning a Mass and vigil followed by eucharistic adoration, a talk about Cardinal Newman’s importance, a service project, and a special dinner in the dormitory with napkin holders displaying quotes from Newman.

A Google search about Cardinal Newman quotes shows there are plenty to choose from including: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” and “We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Parts of this story were supplied by Catholic News Service reports.


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