A Postulator's Jottings

The Birmingham Oratory, the home for so many years of Cardinal Newman, forms part of the worldwide confederation of Oratories – some 75 in all, spread through Europe, North and South America and South Africa. This family of Oratories is organised into different language groups and each year the delegates elected by these groups meet to discuss matters of interest and to review the year’s happenings. So it was that the first week of September saw me at the Gostyn Oratory in Poland, where I gave an account of the progress of Cardinal Newman’s Cause. I learned from the delegates of the interest in Cardinal Newman in their respective areas, and was asked a good number of questions about the promoting of the Cause. The German delegate asked me to write something for him about how the Cardinal’s canonisation would benefit the Church; the Poles wanted more literature available in their own (difficult!) language; the South Americans spoke of the growing devotion to the Cardinal among their own peoples.

    Of concern to all the delegates was the question of the preservation of the Cardinal’s archives here in Birmingham, and various ideas for fundraising for this end were raised. Admittedly, when there are so many calls on people’s generosity, the preservation of 19th century documents might not seem a great priority. However, as and when the Cardinal is beatified and canonised, his papers will take on a new significance as part of the patrimony of the Saints of the Universal Church, and so are worthy of our especial attention.

    All in all, it was a useful meeting, and even if I was not able to report enormous developments in the Cause, at least the long journey to Gostyn was made worthwhile by gaining the knowledge that interest grows worldwide.

    Nearer to home, this time of year brings with it the last events of the annual round of Newman commemorations. I have mentioned Littlemore before – that place just outside the City of Oxford where John Henry Newman prayed and studied and where he was received into the Catholic Church. This took place at the hands of F. Dominic Barberi, the Passionist, on 9th October, 1845. Each year the event is commemorated by a pilgrimage to Littlemore, where Mass is celebrated, and a visit is made to “The College”, where Newman and his friends lived. This year the pilgrimage is on Saturday, October 5th. Our retired Archbishop, Maurice Couve de Murville, will be leading it, celebrating the Mass and preaching.

    Also in October the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Cardinal Newman takes place at the Birmingham Oratory – this year on Wednesday 16th, at 7.30pm. AGMs are not always the most popular of events, but this year we have what promises to be an interesting talk to be given by F. Dermot Fenlon of the Oratory on “Cardinal Newman and Father Edward Caswall” – F. Edward was a translator and hymn-writer and a priest of the Oratory.

The Very Rev’d Paul Chavasse