Birmingham: Cardinal John Foley to lead St Philip Neri celebrations

Cardinal John Foley

Cardinal John Foley

American Cardinal John Foley, will be visiting the Birmingham Oratory, from 24 - 27 May. Cardinal Foley will be celebrating Solemn Mass on 26 May, the feast day of St Philip Neri, the Oratorians’ sixteenth-century Italian founder.

Foley, who was President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from 1984 to 2007, is
originally from Philadephia, Pennsylvania, and studied in Rome at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas. He is Cardinal-Deacon of the Church of Saint Sebastian on the Palatine hill in Rome.

The Birmingham Oratory’s annual commemoration of St Philip has seen visitors such as author Monsignor Ronald Knox, Cardinal Alfons Stickler and Cardinal William Conway. More recently, the community has welcomed among others Father Aidan Nicholls OP and Abbot Cuthbert Johnson of
Quarr. Earlier this year the Oratory welcomed as its guest Cardinal George Pell of Sydney,

St Philip Neri was born in Florence in 1515, and after moving to Rome in his youth, was ordained priest, and founded the Oratory in 1575. He is known as the ‘Saint of Joy’ both because of his playful character, and because his deep life of prayer gave him an inner joy that was evident to all who knew
him. His life was characterised by untiring service of the poor, and intense priestly ministry, helping his contemporaries live an authentic Christian life. He was canonised in 1622.

Newman wrote of St Philip in an 1850 sermon: “He lived in an age as traitorous to the interests of Catholicism as any that preceded it, or can follow it. He lived at a time when pride mounted high, and the senses held rule; a time when kings and nobles never had more of state and homage, and never less of personal responsibility and peril; when medieval winter was receding, and the summer sun of civilization was bringing into leaf and flower a thousand forms of luxurious enjoyment … and he perceived that the mischief was to be met, not with argument, not with science, not with protests and warnings, not by the recluse or the preacher, but by means of the great counter-fascination of purity and truth.”

Newman added: “whether or not I can do any thing at all in St. Philip’s way, at least I can do nothing in any other.”

Cardinal Foley will celebrate Solemn First Vespers of the Feast of St Philip at 7.30pm on Monday 25 May at the Oratory Church of the Immaculate Conception, Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham

On Tuesday 26th May he will celebrate Solemn Pontifical Mass at 7pm, at which he will also preach.

Father Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Oratory, and Postulator of the Cause for Newman’s Canonisation, said: “It is a particular pleasure to be able to welcome to the Oratory our old friend, Cardinal John Foley. The founder of the Oratory, St Philip Neri, counted many Cardinals amongst his friends and
spiritual sons. We remember too that the founder of the Birmingham Oratory, John Henry Newman, ended his days as a member of the ‘Sacred College’.”

Father Chavasse continued: “In recent years we have been privileged to count among the most supportive advocates of Newman’s Cause for Beatification several cardinals from around the world. Cardinal Foley's presence with us this year reminds us of the strong links which unite us here in Birmingham with the Church of Rome, loved and served by both St Philip and his 19th century disciple, John Henry Newman.”

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