Subject of Newman miracle to visit England

Deacon Jack Sullivan, whose cure from a serious debility of the spine in 2001 has recently been accepted by the Pope as a miracle resulting from John Henry Newman’s intercession, is to visit Cardinal Newman’s own Birmingham Oratory (UK) in November.

The visit will see tours of Newman’s room and library, and of the magnificent Oratory church, built in the early twentieth century as a memorial to the great nineteenth century theologian.

During Jack’s stay in Birmingham, there will also be trips to Rednal, where Newman was buried, and to other parts of Birmingham associated with Newman, including Digbeth, where he worked in a poor neighbourhood which was part of his first Oratorian parish.

Among key symbols of Newman’s life, Jack will also see the desk at which Newman wrote his Apologia pro Vita Sua, the fascinating account of how his study of the early Church led him, from his Anglican roots, to enter the Catholic Church in 1845.

It was in June 2000 that Deacon Sullivan, from Massachusetts, watched a television programme on Cardinal Newman broadcast by the American Catholic network EWTN, which included an interview with the English Newman scholar, Father Ian Ker. Viewers were encouraged to write to the Birmingham Oratory with details of any healings or favours received through Cardinal Newman’s intercession. This was the beginning of Jack’s special relationship with Newman, which was to see him healed completely from his back problems and able – against the odds – to be ordained deacon.

In October 2001, when Jack’s healing was complete, he finally wrote to Father Paul Chavasse at the Birmingham Oratory to recount his extraordinary experience.

Jack Sullivan will be in Birmingham, accompanied by his wife Carol, from 11-12 November. He said: “This visit to the Birmingham Oratory will be the greatest moment of my life. To visit the place where Newman prayed, lived and worked, will be a wonderful experience. I call Cardinal Newman my ‘intercessor and special friend’. Birmingham was the centre of Newman’s whole life.”

Father Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Oratory and Actor of the Cause for Newman’s Canonisation, said: “This will be a moment of special grace for the Oratory. God has chosen Jack’s healing as the means of Newman’s Beatification, which will be such an important moment for the Church of our times.”

Jack Sullivan's story is retold in 'Cardinal Newman - the Story of a Miracle by Peter Jennings,  published by the CTS (Catholic Truth Society) this month,  price £1.95.

In the book,  Jack said: “The writings of Cardinal Newman are so relevant today,  in view of our tendencies towards intellectualism and lack of doctrine, in this so called progressive and secular age. The supremacy of God has given way to the supremacy of man especially in his sense of self-sufficiency. As Newman suggested modern man needs to recapture his former sense of awe and wonder at the majesty of God and our total dependence upon His love and mercy. I remember Newman suggests that what’s worse than the atheist is the Christian who thinks God thinks just like he does.”

After Birmingham, Jack will go to Oxford, visiting Newman’s two colleges, Trinity and Oriel, as well as Littlemore, where Newman was received into the Catholic Church. He will also visit the Oxford Oratory, founded in 1991 from the Birmingham Oratory, which fulfilled at last Newman’s own desire to have Oratorians living and working in the heart of Oxford.

While in England, Jack will visit the Brompton Oratory in London, founded by Cardinal Newman and which under his first successor as Superior, Father Frederick William Faber, played an important role in the growth of the popularity of the Oratory in England. Jack will also visit Westminster Cathedral, where he will preach at Mass on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

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