A reception was held at Oriel College to celebrate the publication of The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman
From Times Online
November 18, 2008
Two great English Cardinals, the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman
(1801-1890) and Cardinal Reginald Pole (1500-1558), the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury appointed by the Holy See, were commemorated in Oxford during the evening of Monday November 17 2008.
A memorable and ecumenical reception and dinner was hosted by Oriel College to mark the completion of the publication of The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, described by scholars as the greatest collection of letters of its kind in the English language.
The series was begun by Fr Stephen Dessain, the distinguished Newman scholar and a member of Cardinal Newman's Birmingham Oratory, during the late 1950s. Volume Xl, the first in the series to be published, and covering the start of Newman's Catholic years, was published during 1961. Volume XXXII, the last to be published, appeared on October 9 this year, the anniversary of Newman's reception into the Catholic Church in 1845.
At the same time a traditional Requiem Mass was offered a few hundred yards away in the chapel of Magdalen College for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Reginald Pole, Chancellor of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, who died exactly 450 years ago on November 17 1558, a few hours after the sudden death of the Catholic Tudor Queen, Mary I.
The Provost of Oriel, Sir Derek Morris, welcomed the guests to the College that had elected John Henry Newman a fellow on April 12 1822.
Three years later on May 29, Whit Sunday, 1825 Newman was ordained a priest in the Church of England at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
The following year he resigned as a curate of St Clement's and Vice- Principal of Alban Hall on his appointment as a tutor at Oriel College. A few weeks later he preached the first of his famous University Sermons. On February 2 1828 Newman was appointed Vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford.
Sir Derek gave a fascinating insight into Newman and Oriel. He
said: "In a deep sense, Oriel College formed and `made' John Henry Newman. He flourished there and first formulated many of his characteristic and influential ideas, not least as regards methods of education of the young and as to what constituted a university education. It was at Oriel that he learned more deeply that Christianity is about the life of the mind and not merely about the life of the heart as instilled in him by his earlier Evangelical mentor."
Sir Derek emphasised that: "Newman was fortunate in finding Oriel. He had not succeeded in the Schools. Although Oriel achieved academic pre-eminence in the early decades of the 19th century partly on the back of the university examination reforms of 1800 and was at the forefront of reform of the Oxford curriculum, it consciously recognised merit on other criteria than a narrow focus on Honours examination results. In short, Oriel chose its Fellows by `a trial, not of how much men knew, but of how they knew?' Newman was an outstanding beneficiary of this foresighted policy. An Oriel Fellowship examination was a test not so much of knowledge but of `quality of mind'. As it was put to Newman, an Oriel Fellowship was: `great in point of emolument, in point of character it was immortality'.
The Provost made clear that: "This Oriel emphasis was well suited to Newman's famous pursuit of the concept of ethos as a guide to both belief and conduct and which was to characterize the temper of the emerging Oxford Movement."
In conclusion Sir Derek Morris stressed that: "Most of the early volumes in the Letters & Diaries series necessarily reveal much about Newman's crucial Oriel years and show that behind the well known theological conflicts and drama on the wider university stage, Newman's everyday life in and out of college was very much part of his ongoing spiritual journey.
"Newman once said that his was an `indoor' life rather than one of external activism (though it is easy to underestimate the intensity of his parochial labors as well as huge personal pastoral influence as Oxford college tutor). However, it is through the vast corpus of Newman's published writings that his enormous and enduring influence and legacy primarily rests and would touch many beyond or outside the Roman Catholic Church."
Dr Frank McGrath, an Australian Marist Brother, who masterfully edited the last three volumes of the `Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman', explained that: "Volume XXXII is a supplementary volume. It contains about 500 Newman letters found too late for inclusion in previous volumes. The letters cover a period of 60 years, from 1830 to 1890. Volume XXXI also included a supplement, containing about 168 similar letters but they all dealt with the Catholic years, covering a period of 38 years from 1845 to 1883."
Dr McGrath reminded those present that the principal architect and first editor of the Letters and Diaries had been Fr Stephen Dessain.
He said: "It was Fr Dessain's decision to start with the Catholic years. He published Volume XI in 1961. During his 18 years as editor, he produced a further 21 volumes, all belonging to the Catholic years, the last volume being XXXI. Along the way he was notably assisted by three Jesuit priests, Fr Vincent Blehl, who later became Postulator of the Newman Cause, Fr Edward Kelly and Fr Thomas Gornall.
He continued: "That left only the Anglican years to edit. That would take another 10 volumes and another 30 years. Following Father Stephen's death in May 1976, Fathers Ian Ker and Thomas Gornall completed Volumes I-V. Gerard Tracey then took over the editorship and Volumes VI-VIII were published. He was working on Volume IX when he passed away unexpectedly in January 2003, aged 48.
"At this point, I was invited by the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory to complete the series. So now, after seven editors, 32 volumes and 50 years, we have one of the finest collections of letters in the English language."
He added: "It should come as no surprise that Newman letters continue to surface, from auction rooms, the internet, private collections, libraries. One letter in particular surfaced just last month in the papers of John William Burgon in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It was from Newman and dated March 6 1875. Because of its Oriel connection, and its touching detail I would like to share it with you this evening."
Dr McGrath gave some background to this particular letter before he read it. He said: "At the time, John Burgon was a Fellow of Oriel, Vicar of St Mary's, Gresham and Professor of Divinity, London. He had just published a pamphlet calling for the establishment of a divinity school at Oxford. Newman himself had just published his celebrated Letter to the Duke of Norfolk. He had been Vicar of St Mary Oxford for 16 years, replacing Edward Hawkins, Vicar of St Mary's 1823-28, before becoming Provost of Oriel. Charles Page Eden, Fellow of Oriel, who succeeded Newman as Vicar of St Mary's in 1843."
The letter reads as follows:
My dear Mr Burgon
I have had, ever since last Summer, a packet made up for you of stray memoranda about St Mary's parish. I don't know whether you keep and propose to transmit such things, nor again whether these in particular are worth preserving. This doubt, which has been strong, has kept me from sending them to you. Now, since I have occasion to thank you for the present of your Pamphlet, I overcame it, and inclose the said scraps. When I became Vicar, Hawkins (Provost of
Oriel) made over to me some valuable papers, which, together with some others, I transmitted to Eden. I hope they have travelled down to you.
I shall be very glad to hear that you succeed in forming a really learned theological school - but the difficulty is to do so, yet secure for the ?? ?????? (hoi polloi) of your clergy such a general and superficial knowledge as is necessary for work in the world.
Not only myself, but my sister (Jemima who became Mrs John Mozley in
1836) too, have been puzzled who `Rebecca' was - though I have overcome my difficulty enough to be both sorry and surprised to hear from you of her death. Edmunds, my good worthy clerk, who died November 12 1835, married for his second wife a widow who had one daughter. These two women who continued sextoness and pew-openers after Edmund's death, I think the daughter was Rebecca - I scarcely spoke to her - She was young at that time, and that is what surprises me to hear of her death. Her youth will account for my sister
(Jemima) knowing her - for she grew into prominence, if she is Rebecca, after my sister left Oxford, which was in 1836.
Very truly Yours John Henry Newman
P.S. Thank you for your various notices of St Mary's people - and your kind words about me. Gladly will I give any sum you wish me to give to Rebecca's memorial. If I don't hear from you, I shall take an opportunity of sending 2/6. I have been oppressed with work or should have written sooner.
Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Newman Cause concluded a memorable evening by thanking all those who had been involved in the project over the years. He reminded those present to continue to work and pray for the successful conclusion of for the Cause for Cardinal Newman's beatification now in it last stages in Rome.
Among the distinguished guests present at the reception and dinner was Fr Gregory Winterton, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory 1971- 1992, and Deputy Chairman of the Friends of Cardinal Newman, now aged 86, who revitalised the Newman Cause and did much to promote popular interest in the great English Cardinal throughout the world.
Also present were Mgr Anthony Stark, Chairman, the Friends of Cardinal Newman Executive; Sir Ivor Roberts, President of Trinity College Oxford; Fr Robert Byrne, Provost of the Oxford Oratory; Sister Mary Dechant, of the Community of the Work who look after Littlemore where Newman was received into the Catholic church on 9 October 1845.
Many people came from far and wide as guests: Mgr John Moran, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Birmingham; Mr Clive Dytor, Headmaster, the Oratory School. Dr McGrath's Provincial, Br Alexis Turton, travelled from Sydney, Australia, and Br John Parker, came from Benet's House in Glasgow. Leading Newman scholars, Dr Sheridan Gilley and Dr Peter Nockles, together with representatives from St Benet's Hall, Blackfriars, Campion Hall, and the University Chaplaincy also attended.
A beautifully produced, though perhaps controversially titled new book `Reginald Cardinal Pole – The Last Archbishop of Canterbury', by newly ordained Fr Michael Hutchings, was published by The Saint Joan Press recently, to mark this important anniversary in the life of the Catholic Church in England.
The superb illustrations throughout the book are the work of Madeleine Beard, the talented Catholic painter and author. Miss Beard contacted a number of well-known Catholics in January this year to see what support there would be for traditional Requiem Masses to be held on the anniversary of Cardinal Pole's death.
Miss Beard said: "I was greatly encouraged by the response that I received and am delighted that a Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Reginald Pole was celebrated in Oxford, and also at Fisher House, Cambridge, the Birmingham Oratory, the Brompton Oratory, Westminster Cathedral and Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, in the heart of London's West End."
The definitive book about Cardinal Pole was written by Fr Dermot Fenlon, a member of the community at the Birmingham Oratory. Heresy and Obedience: Cardinal Pole and the Counter Reformation (Cambridge University Press, 1972), was published when Fr Fenlon was Fellow and Tutor of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and University Assistant Lecturer in History.
Reginald Cardinal Pole was the son of Sir Richard Pole, a cousin of Henry VIII, and Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury. He was a potential claimant to the throne. In 1549 Pole narrowly missed election as Pope.
Studying at Magdalene College, Oxford and the Carthusian monastery at Sheen, Pole was widely respected for his scholarship. He left England for Padua to study, angering Henry by his opposition to the `divorce'. Pole's continued intransigent opposition to Henry led to the execution of his mother, Blessed Margaret Pole, at Tower Hill in 1541, after she had been held prisoner at Cowdray Castle, Midhurst. After twenty-three years in Italy, Pole returned to England as Papal Legate in order to absolve England from schism. This occurred on November 30 1554, of course in Mary's reign. He instituted a Synod for the restoration and reform of the Church in England.