John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was an English thinker, writer, and Anglican priest who, halfway through his long life, converted to Catholicism in the midst of a period of great theological division and anti-Catholic sentiment in England. Newman’s theology emphasized a middle way between the revelation of Scripture and Tradition and the role of reason and conscience in moral authority; he believed that both the wisdom of the Church and personal spiritual experience play an important role in faith. His work made a lasting impact on the evolution of Catholic theology, and he has been called the “Absent Father of Vatican II.” Newman was made a cardinal in 1879. In 1888, the Catholic club at Oxford University renamed itself the “Newman Society.” Today, Newman Centers exist at many colleges and universities in order to serve the spiritual needs of Catholic students. Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Henry Newman during his visit to England in 2010.
Questions for Reflection:
- College is often a time of change and growth in one’s faith. How was that true for you? How did your faith take on a more intellectual quality? How did it become more personal?
- How has your faith continued to grow and change throughout your life? How has your theological understanding broadened and clarified?