During August I was fortunate enough to visit a small village outside Oxford called Littlemore. It was here that a young Anglican minister named John Henry Newman served as vicar. After some years of prayer and study, he was received into the Catholic Church by an Italian priest, Dominic Barberi, who was a member of a religious order, the Passionists.
At the request of the Bishops of England and Wales, Saint John Henry Newman, canonised by Pope Francis in October 2019, is now to be celebrated on 9 October as a Liturgical Feast, meaning that at the Mass we pray the Gloria and in the Prayer of the Church (the Divine Office) we pray the Te Deum, two great hymns in praise of God's goodness.
Being able to spend time at the place where Newman became a Catholic brought to my mind one of his well-known reflections: ‘God has chosen me for some definite service’ (Meditations and Devotions, March 1848). There is a radio advert at the moment which asks for people ‘with purpose’ and surely this is what we must be because of our Baptism – consciously people with a purpose, aware of the great service to which God calls us, to work for His glory and the good of all people through our words and our actions. How we do that will be rightly different for each one of us ... there is a variety of gifts, but always the one purpose.
Dominic Barberi, the man who was given the great grace of receiving Newman into the Church, is buried in our own Archdiocese and you can pay a visit to his shrine in the church of Saint Anne and Blessed Dominic at Sutton St Helens.
Saint John Henry Newman, Blessed Dominic Barberi, pray for us.