Blessed John Henry Newman
John Henry Newman, after whom our school is named, was born the son of a private banker, in London, in 1801. The Newman's second home, a fine Georgian one, still stands, outside of London by the Thames at Ham. Newman's mother, a member of the Fourdrinier family, was of French Huguenot descent.
John was the eldest of six children, three boys and three girls, and his first fifteen years were spent with the love and care of a happy and united family. His parents encouraged literature, music and amateur theatricals at home. His religion consisted of frequent Bible readings rather than rites or creeds. Although he had been taught the Anglican catechism, Newman, as a boy, had formed "no religious convictions".
Newman admits to a series of conversions in his life which eventually led him to believe in the truth of Catholic doctrine.
Newman sought the truth through obedience to God and he suffered for it. The serenity which underlies all his writings witnesses to the fact that he had found it.
Newman discovered that the truth remains hidden unless sought after. He teaches us that it is to be sought not only with the mind, but also with the heart, and by means of that holiness which allows us to perceive God in our world.
It was not until long after his death that the Church, through the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's, brought forward the things which Newman fought for: the supremacy of conscience, the Church as communion, a return to scripture and early Christian writings, the rightful way of the laity in the church, work for unity, and efforts to meet the needs of the age.
Each of us who has prayed from the heart has only to look at our prayer to see what we believe. The following prayer written by Newman, not only shows us what he believed, but gives direction to our own search for the truth.
"God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have a mission. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. I shall do good. I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it if I do but keep His word. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him. If I am in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about."
John Henry Newman