Newman's golden nugget



The Oxford Oratory recently organised a week of fund raising  events with an American theme, culminating in a dinner on Friday at Harris Manchester College,Oxford,which is twinned with Harvard  University and the Catholic Boston College.  £10,000 was the  weeks'' target towards the  building fund,  for a chapel dedicated to Cardinal Newman and a library to exhibit  his work.

The week began with a Cajun band, L'Angelus, from New Orleans, making their first visit to England, and included special guided tours by historian John Whitehead on Newman's Oxford and a talk on CS Lewis  by Walter Hooper, his last secretary.

Cecilia De Maria, 2008 BBC Young Musician of the Year  finalist played the harp at a champagne reception prior to the  college dinner. Fr Richard Duffield, Provost of Birmingham and postulator for Newman's beatification and making final plans to welcome the Pope in September, returned to Oxford to give the after dinner speech saying  that  from his recent visits to America he realised that Newman was loved even more there.

“This love goes back to Newman's own time, expressed in the most practical terms by offers of financial help," he said. 

Fr Duffield, who flew to America on Sunday, to raise further funds,  quoted from Newman's letter to the Archbishop of New York, in 1854, “Fundraising is a rather thankless task. I have found it is in some ways easier in America where there is a culture of unembarrassed generosity”.

He added that it was New York Catholics who paid for Newman's' burial place.

Fr Duffield then displayed an amazing  ring sent  by Californian Catholics to Newman in 1854 to help him cover costs from a libel trial. It was a gold nugget from the Californian gold rush, weighing over 17 ounces.

Concluding  with  an  auction  led by parishioner Michael  Walsh, from  the BBC Antiques Roadshow  and Bonhams' auctioneers,  the evening  raised £3,767.

Campaign director Fr Jerome Bertram said that a temporary altar and shrine for Cardinal Newman was being constructed and would be ready by September to be placed in the  Oxford Oratory church, and finalised plans for the  new building and Newman chapel would be unveiled at a press conference on 22 July.

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