Birmingham: Deacon Jack Sullivan walks in the steps of Newman

Mass in Newman's private chapel

Mass in Newman's private chapel

Deacon Jack Sullivan visited the Birmingham Oratory during his week-long stay in England. On Wednesday morning, Jack, with his wife Carol, visited Rednal, where Newman was buried among his Oratorian brethren. Jack also visited the Oratory Primary School, where he was interviewed by some of the pupils. He then came to the Oratory, on the Hagley Road, where Newman lived from 1852-1890. Jack Sullivan was deacon at a well-attended Mass in the Oratory Church. In the afternoon, he visited Newman’s room and library, and did an interview with EWTN, the American Catholic television network. Jack Sullivan also spent time in prayer before Newman’s remains, now venerated in the Oratory Church.

On Thursday morning, Father Paul Chavasse, Actor of Newman’s Cause, celebrated Mass in Newman’s private chapel, with Jack Sullivan assisting as deacon. The day’s liturgical feast was of St Josaphat (1580-1623), the Lithuanian bishop who worked tirelessly for the union of his own people with the Church of Rome. For this reason his life was in danger, but he wrote courageously to those who threatened him: “Here I am; I came to you as a shepherd. You know I would be happy to give my life for you. I am ready to die for union of the Church under St Peter and his successor the Pope.” St Josaphat was finally martyred for the Faith and was canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX, who also gave to Cardinal Newman his special mission to found the English Oratories.

With his Apostolic Constitution on the reception of Anglican groups into communion with the Catholic Church, which Newman in an important way anticipated, Pope Benedict XVI can be seen as reviving the authentic ecumenism exemplified by St Josaphat. Placing in its proper context the modern ecumenical preoccupation with ‘dialogue’ and ‘co-operation’, the Holy Father has restated the Holy See’s enduring mission of calling men and women into communion with Christ in His Church.

In his Cathedra Sempiterna Newman wrote of the vocation of the Pope: “Peter is no recluse, no abstracted student, no dreamer about the past, no doter upon the dead and gone, no projector of the visionary. … If there ever was a power on earth who had an eye for the times, who has confined himself to the practicable, and has been happy in his anticipations, whose words have been deeds, and whose commands prophecies, such is he in the history of ages, who sits from generation to generation in the Chair of the Apostles, as the Vicar of Christ and Doctor of His Church.”

In his homily at Mass in the Oratory Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, Jack Sullivan said: “This is Newman’s home, he lived here, he who changed my life. So now I have come home, yes come home, to the Oratory.”

Headline picture shows Revd Jack and Carol Sullivan at Newman's Gravestone, Rednal; main image: Mass in Newman's private chapel

Source: Newman Cause

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