The Newman Cause’s forgotten heroes
SIR – The debt of gratitude owed to Fr Gregory Winterton Cong Orat and Mgr Dr Francis Davis in their distinguished furtherance of the Cause of Cardinal Newman cannot be disputed (Letter, July 5).
However, their achievements over several decades were often built on the capabilities of their colleagues, especially Gerard Tracy, the Newman archivist, who probably knew more about Newman than anyone else and was always reaching out to scholars and journalists from all over the world who seemed to have no idea of time zones.
Secondly, there was Fr Vincent Blehl SJ, the American Jesuit who worked for years in the Birmingham Oratory. Formerly from the Bronx and then Fordham University, Fr Blehl, was invited by the then Archbishop of Birmingham, George Patrick Dwyer, to lead the Newman Historical Commission. Allied to this, Fr Blehl became the Postulator for the Cause. His scholarship and enthusiasm made the mechanics of Newman’s Cause possible.
Finally, there was the distinguished journalist Peter Jennings, who acted as press officer for the Birmingham Oratory. For much of his life Peter lived in the Birmingham Oratory parish and often functioned as an adviser. He perused Newman documents and public statements. He mostly gave his services free to the Oratorian community, and although never fully recognised for his prodigious talent, he popularised Cardinal Newman to a wider audience. He also possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of Vatican corridors which few clergy, scholars or journalists had.
Stourbridge, West Midlands
How Faber led me to the Catholic faith
SIR – It was lovely to read the article on Fr Faber (Charterhouse, July 5). I agree with much that Steve Larkin writes about him.
Faber’s frequent flowery prose and poetry does not fit easily into our sound-bite society. But, as Larkin himself suggests, once you get at the content rather more than its expression it does expose the beauty and richness of our Faith. His hymn My God, How Wonderful Thou Art, introduced to me by my Methodist headteacher when I was a schoolboy, is up there with the greatest of hymns of praise, and his book Growth In Holiness; or, The progress of the spiritual life is a classic and was hugely influential on my personal journey to the Catholic Faith.
The one sadness was his less than warm relationship with the Cardinal, although that perhaps owed more to Newman than to Faber.
Market Harborough, Leicestershire
From Sarum to Trent
SIR – I doubt if Dr John Canning (Letter, June 28) has ever attended Mass according to the Use of Sarum, otherwise I am sure he would appreciate that it is somewhat pedantic to insist that the Mass to which the Henrician martyrs were accustomed was that of the Sarum Rite rather than the Tridentine Rite. This is of course technically correct, but the differences between the Sarum Rite (more properly the Use of Sarum) and the Tridentine Rite are fairly minimal, especially in contrast to those between the Extraordinary and Ordinary forms of Mass as we know them today.
A fast-growing order
SIR – I was heartened to read in Joanna Bogle’s article how well some long-established mendicant Orders, particularly the Dominicans and the Greyfriars, are doing in recruiting new members (Cover story, July 5).
However, no mention was made of one newly established mendicant order, which is also attracting vocations in good numbers. The Family of Mary Immaculate and St Francis, which was founded in Gosport in the Diocese of Portsmouth only a few years ago, has just increased its priestly membership from one to five. Last Saturday Bishop Egan ordained four members of this community to the priesthood, arguably making it the fastest growing religious community in Europe.
Truth and education
SIR – May I commend Simon Caldwell’s article on Bishop Davies’s pastoral letter to those involved in education in the Diocese of Shrewsbury (UK news analysis, July 5).
Bishop Mark refers to Ss John Fisher and Thomas More – surely, had Henry VIII appointed a minister for education, Thomas would have been the ideal incumbent – as exemplars of how Catholic faith and truth should be mediated to the People of God.
No proselytism here: the plain statement of Catholic Truth respectful of those who think and act otherwise, and need the grace of God to change to better ways.
Stephen de la Bédoyère
SIR – I wish to thank Sister Elaine Cope osc for her letter (July 4) in which she gives us an example of Catholic business. I encourage other readers who know about, or are interested in starting a Catholic business to share their thoughts with us. Now let me tie Catholic business with the topic of vocations.
What made people want to follow Jesus? Let me put it this way: if you saw that your local carpenter was attracting huge crowds from all over because he was healing people from illnesses by just touching them, you might also feel the desire to hang out with him. I often feel that today we miss an important point; Jesus used what he had (his divine power) to change people’s lives for the better.
We, the Church, must not forget that we are the Mystical Body of Christ and we too must use what we have (our combined gifts and talents) to change people’s lives for the better. You don’t change a person’s life by giving him a handout; you change his life by giving him a new job where he will enter into relationship with men and women of faith. That is truly a life-changing experience.
If we, the Mystical Body of Christ, take seriously the task of performing this kind of miracles, we will see the tidal wave of young people return to the Church. Because to many of them the Church must probably look like a hangout spot for retirees.
Fr Juan Villagómez SOLT
Dover, New Jersey
Sending a bouquet
SIR – Just a note of appreciation for “Girlstown”, the Image of the Week in your June 28 edition.
I’m a retired schoolteacher, a veteran of the classroom. The picture of all those lovely young ladies gave me tremendous pleasure. God bless them!
I am, however, writing to thank you for reassuring me that the practice of the spiritual bouquet lives. We did this when we were in school, and occasionally, I still send a spiritual bouquet to a special friend.
I’m a new subscriber and truly read Catholic Herald cover to cover. Thanks!
Newport News, Virginia