With Bruce, Barb and Robert Kirkindall in Rome



Hello, I’m Dr. Bruce Wyman. On Sunday October 13, 2019, Pope Francis declared Cardinal John Henry Newman a saint along with four others. My wife, Professor Barb Wyman and I were there for this great event. In order to share our experiences, I will ask her a few questions.

  1. What were your impressions of Newman’s canonization?

(Barb – my impression is that the whole event was incredibly well organized by the Birmingham Oratory and those who helped the Oratory in the planning. From the excellent communication before the event by email, and the clear instructions for collecting the free tickets, along with instructional material in the form of a booklet called “The Pilgrim guide” which had all the events, their locations, etc, in the guide, made for a seamless experience for the whole weekend. The  canonization itself, of course, was the focal point and an unforgettable experience.)

  1. Where were you in the plaza during the canonization?

(Barb – I was very fortunate to have been invited as a “VIP” which allowed me to be in “il sagrato” the sacred space very near the altar. I was only a few rows away from Pope Francis, and by chance, sitting with the British Parliament. It was almost hard to believe that I was really there, so close! I tried to remember each moment. The sheer number of vested clergy – cardinals, bishops, and priests – processing in – was breathtaking. And the sacred music added gravitas, even though there was much excitement all around. I had to keep telling myself, “This is really happening!”)

  1. What was the atmosphere in Rome like?

(Barb- we arrived early, but already there were vast crowds finding seats. I was struck, as always, by the universal nature of the church – so many different languages and so many happy people from around the world, all here for the event. People were friendly and as excited as we were. During the Mass, which incorporated several languages, from my place above the general crowd, I was struck by how much louder it got when the Mass parts were in Latin … since that is the official language of the church, all could participate! It was incredibly moving to hear the people “una voce dicentes” – in one voice speaking.)

  1. Did you visit places related to Newman’s life?

 (Barb – yes! We took a walking tour which took place Sunday afternoon after the canonization, to various places important to Newman – “A Walk through Newman’s Rome.” At each place, there was either someone reading from his writing or poetry, or musical settings of his poetry … four different stops. It was a long walk through the cobblestone streets of Rome lined with beautiful churches. Everyone was convivial and in good spirits. This was another event that made Newman seem more real to me.)

  1. What did you think of the Prince of Wales’ speech?

(Barb – I thought his speech was just right. He managed to explain in a few words how Newman was important not just to Catholics, but to Anglicans and the faithful of all nations because of the importance of Newman’s writing and of the person of Newman. The prince delivered the speech with quiet sincerity and this also moved me.)

  1. What are some reasons why St. John Henry Newman is important and speaks to us today?

(Barb – although Newman lived in the 19th C, the problems of modernity that he had to deal with, in the Church and in society, are not that far removed from our current time. He could see with clarity how certain attitudes of thought were destructive. One of these was the mistaken understanding of a religion as something subjective, and the failure to see conscience as the voice of God. But above all else, Newman was in love with Jesus Christ. This is something that transcends all time and unites us with all men of good will throughout the ages. In addition, since we have actual photographs of Newman, as we do of other more recent saints, like St. Therese of Liseaux, it brings a visual reality that is helpful to us. He was a real person, living not that long ago. Saints were real people with real problems, with families and heartaches and joy. This helps Newman speak to us today).

  1. How can we pray to St. John Henry?

(Barb – I find that being able to see the recipients of Newman’s intercession bringing miraculous cures – and both were present at his canonization – makes it easier to pray to St. John Henry. He is a powerful friend in heaven, and during his life on earth, friendship was important to him. I pray to him as though he were the kindly priest that I know he was, wanting to lead souls to heaven. There’s something about his demeanor, and his gentle eyes, that I find easy to “chat” with, as in a personal conversation with him.)

  1. Do you think that there will be renewed interest with Newman Centers at universities to study Newman, now that he has been canonized?

(Barb – I hope so. So few people, and this includes students who use the Newman centers and people in the communities which have universities, realize that they are named for St. John Henry Newman. This is truly a great loss. Perhaps now students and chaplains both will be curious to look more deeply into this brilliant and affectionate professor priest, who so believed that a university education should enlarge the mind of students and form the soul for Christ, and not just prepare a student to get a job.) The Student workbook of Holiness in a Secular Age, available free of cost at this website could be a good starting point for this.

Thank you for this reflection. St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!



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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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About Cardinal John Henry Newman

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A Guide to John Henry Newman will interest educated readers and professors alike, and serve as a text for college seminars for the purpose of studying Newman.

Review by Catherine Maybanks
(Catholic Herald, April 1, 2023)

Review by Serenheed James
(Antiphon, April 2023)

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Fr Peter Conley takes us on an exciting journey into the spirituality and inner life of Saint John Henry Newman.

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Endorsement by Neyra Blanco (Amazon)
I bought this book for my son and he loved it, he wrote this review and urged my to submitted: “I think this book has a very beautiful message, because it shows how the young Newman was so determined to achieve his dream of becoming a priest, but even after his dream he continued to work in the church with passion until the day he died, it’s so admirable that even Newman so old and so weak still had that urge to continued his work of being a priest. And the book is well written with words not too complicated with very enjoyable texts and well illustrated pictures. I highly recommend this book for a 5th grader.  

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What is a Classical Liberal Arts Education? Why is it so important for the development of a person?

Fr. Juan R. Vélez answers these and more questions you might have about University Education in the 21st century. This book is aimed for parents, prospective University students, and educators. It will help you discern why adding Liberal Arts electives to your education will help it form it better, and help the student learn to reason, and not just learn.

He also explains how many Universities have changed the true meaning of Liberal Arts, and the subjects, and gives advise on how to choose College Campus, Subjects, and Teachers.

A wonderful book that every parent should also read way before your children are College bound. A Liberal Arts education can start earlier in life, even from home.

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Endorsement by Christopher Moellering (Goodreads, September 14, 2019)
In Passion for Truth Fr. Vélez gave us an outstanding biography of Cardinal Newman. In this work, he provides a concise overview of his thought and his devotion. This is a great work for someone who, perhaps hearing of Newman for the first time because of his beatification 13 October, 2019, wants to know more about this English saint.Vélez is a wonderful writer in his own right, and the frequent quotations from Newman round out the work nicely. I especially appreciated the frequent citing of Newman’s Meditations and Devotions, which show a different side of his spirituality than his more well-known works, Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent.

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Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman, endorsement by Illow M. Roque (Amazon, September 3, 2010)
“There is a time to put direct inquiry on hold and give ourselves to prayer and practical duties.” Sound advice from one of the earlier, thought-provoking reminders in this sparkling gem of a book: Take Five | Meditations with John Henry Newman, written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan R. Vélez and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This particular paragraph, referenced above, which begins with a direct quote from soon-to-be canonized priest, cardinal and poet, John Henry Newman: “Study is good, but it gets us only so far . . .” is actually the 15th in a series of 76 concise, logically organized meditations moving from the elementary to the sublime. Each meditation–one per page–is built upon the great man’s writings and remarkably rich spirituality. Whether taken whole in one reading or in part page-by-page over a course of weeks and months, these wonderfully insightful meditations will open up, even to the busiest reader in the midst of the world, a unique pathway into prayer and contemplation. My advice to spiritual inquirers at all levels, from the novice to the spiritually adept, is to follow the authors’ recommendation to use this book as a guide for daily prayer and meditation. The structure of the book itself is ideal: first, the authors introduce us to Cardinal Newman, the man, where we are given the opportunity to get to know him through a brief sketch of his life and spirituality at the beginning of the book. This is something readers will likely find themselves referring to again and again, prompting many, I suspect, to even wider explorations of this most gifted Christian leader. Then comes the meditations, consisting of a short summary of Newman’s thoughts on subjects taken, as the authors explain, from various salient points for which Newman is justly remembered: The pursuit of objective religious truth; Teaching on the Virtues; Defense of the Catholic Church; A devout spiritual and moral life; and Generosity and loyalty in his friendships, which sets the topic and tone for each meditation to follow. Each meditation consists of an excerpt taken from Newman’s thirty-plus volumes of writings and diaries. Next comes three brief and extremely useful sections entitled: “Think About It,” which establishes a prayerfully resonant tone throughout the book; “Just Imagine,” which provides a vivid, prayerful experience of the Scriptures that tie in, and finally, “Remember,” a pithy summation which the authors suggest may be used as a daily aspiration. Each meditation is given its own page, which makes it ideal for daily reflection for readers on the go. This book is a must have for every serious Catholic who wants to take their faith to the next level, which is to respond appropriately to the universal call to holiness and seek interior union with God.
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