On the Mass offered by Bishop Patrick McKinney at the University of Nottingham, to Celebrate the Canonisation of S. John Henry Newman


Mr. Christopher Howitt is the new Lay Chaplain at the University of Nottingham's Catholic chaplaincy. Here, he describes for us the Mass offered by the Bishop at the University on the 13th of October, this being the very day on which Cardinal Newman was canonised by the Holy Father in Rome.

"Whilst the weather may have been wet, there were certainly no dampened feelings at Holy Mass on Sunday the 13th of October, 2019. A great occasion for the global Church (and especially in England and Wales), the day saw the canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the first British Saint in over 40 years. It was a special day also for the many universities across our diocese, and in particular the University of Nottingham whose Catholic Chaplaincy and Catholic Society have been under his patronage for almost 90 years. Principal celebrant (and homilist) at the Mass was Bishop Patrick McKinney and concelebrating were Fr. Jonathan Rose (University Chaplain) and Fr. Jonathan Whitby-Smith (former University Lay Chaplain), all assisted by Deacon Peter Brogan (University of Lincoln). Also marking this joyful occasion were university staff and students from across the Diocese, along with our ecumenical brothers and sisters and recently appointed National Coordinator of Catholic Chaplains in Higher Education, Helen Townsend.

"In his homily, Bishop Patrick highlighted how S. John Henry Newman provides a strong example towards our own invitation of encounter, discipleship and missionary discipleship. Understanding God as ‘the subject of an overwhelming experience’ rather than an ‘object of belief or thought’, it was an encounter at the age of 15 that would shape the rest of his life. An excellent scholar, his father enrolled him at Trinity College, Oxford at the age of 16, but in a reminder of his frail humanity he struggled with his final exams. Undeterred he became Fellow of Oriel College; a role that would last 28 years. In 1848, still building on his teenage encounter with God, S. John Henry Newman wrote the encouraging words that still speak to all of us today: ‘God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another’ (Meditations on Christian doctrine). In this he recognised his call to missionary discipleship and so, some 31 years later, he was made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII and took as his motto ‘Cor ad cor loquitor’: Heart speaks to heart. Bishop Patrick concluded by reminding us that S. John Henry Newman ‘is not some plaster saint; he was very human; he had his highs and his lows, he experienced failures and disappointments’ and so ‘if we seek his prayerful intercession, he can be a true friend in heaven’ to us all.

"The highly attended Mass was also accompanied by the musical talents of students and we were blessed with the opportunity to venerate a Grade 2 relic of our new Saint. Renowned for his approach towards faith and university education, it was apt that this prayerful recognition of S. John Henry Newman took place in the beautifully adorned Great Hall of University Park Campus. A prolific preacher, writer and faithful intercessor, S. Newman continues to inspire us all to walk confidently into the Light of Christ so as to draw closer to that very ‘definite service’ our Father bestows on each of us.

"S. John Henry Newman, pray for us."

Click here to find the full homily delivered by the Bishop on this occasion.