Who Is Soon-to-be-Saint John Henry Newman? A Conversation with a Follower

An article from PrayTellBlog.

Anthony Ruff conducted the interview for Pray Tell by email. This interview was first published in February, 2019.

Msgr. Richard M. Liddy is Director of the Center for Catholic Studies, Seton Hall University and Former President of the Newman Association of America. He worked on the Birmingham Diocese Historical Commission in preparation for the beatification of John Henry Newman, who is to be canonized a saint this Sunday.

How is the Newman Association of America responding to today’s news?
Members of the Association have been praying for this and working for this for years. I know that this news [of his canonization] fills them with joy. For many years I have dreamed of attending Cardinal Newman’s canonization.

Who was John Henry Newman? 
He was the most well-known teacher and preacher in England in the middle of the 19th century. At the age of 44, in 1845 he became a Roman Catholic, leaving family and friends to join a faith that at the time was poor and despised in England. In 1847 he was ordained a Catholic priest and subsequently wrote a number of classic books, including The Idea of the University, which is still considered the finest book on the nature of the university education. He could be clear and intellectual and at the same time poetic and loving. James Joyce called him the best writer of prose in the English language. He died in 1890, much beloved by the English people. Of him, The Times of London wrote: “Of one thing we may be sure, that the memory of his pure and noble life, untouched by worldliness, unsoured by any trace of fanaticism, will endure, and that whether Rome canonizes him or not he will be canonized in the thoughts of pious people of many creeds in England. The saint and the poet in him will survive.”

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