A pilgrimage of 34 Newman University staff, board members, friends and alumni led by President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., traveled to Rome where they witnessed the canonization of university namesake St. John Henry Newman.
The canonization took place Oct. 13 in St. Peter’s Square in front of an audience of more than 50,000.
St. John Henry Newman was a well-known 19th-century theologian and scholar who believed that an education should be deeply rooted in the liberal arts.
Newman University, the only U.S. university named for St. John Henry Newman, focuses on curriculum that puts his ideas into action and prepares graduates to adapt in a rapidly changing world in which future professions do not yet exist.
The canonization of the university’s namesake was an important historical moment for the Newman community.
University Chaplain Father Adam Grelinger said, “Not many places get to celebrate the canonization of their namesake. It’s super rare and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The pilgrimage, which spanned Oct. 7-15, included visits to Rome, Siena, Florence, San Gimignano and Assisi, and a special visit to the headquarters of the university’s founding order, The Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC).
During an Oct. 24 celebratory prayer breakfast at Newman, Carrocci reflected on the pilgrimage, noting the importance of being at the canonization but also meeting and dining with ASC sisters and visiting their home.
On the evening of the ASC visit, Carroci said, “The head of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the president, Father Dennis Holtschneider, joined us for the Mass and festivities.
“The chapel there is a beautiful chapel and … on the right side of that is St. Maria De Mattias’ tomb. And I can’t tell you how moved I was to get to be next to the foundress of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. It was just remarkable.”
Diana Crook, M.D., ’85 said, for her, the trip was a continuation of the journey she started at Newman University as a student.
While attending Newman, Crook said, “I felt the Holy Spirit, and … St. John Henry Newman, encouraging me to seek knowledge as he saw it in the 1800s.
“I was also able to attend the beatification ceremony of John Henry Cardinal Newman in England (in 2010) … and then finally getting to see the canonization — I never thought I’d see that in my lifetime.”
Crook said she felt St. John Henry Newman’s presence throughout the pilgrimage.
“I think all along the way, there were just remnants of St. John Henry telling us why we were here. We were seeing things in Italy, Sienna … you can’t look at these things, you can’t go through that over eight days and not think that, ‘Well, there is a purpose on this earth and why God wants us to be here.”
Carrocci said the canonization was moving and she felt blessed to be able to attend such a historical event in person.
“It was truly remarkable to be in St. Peter’s Square with all of these people. Our namesake is a saint and we are blessed.”
She added one of her favorite moments of the day was when Pope Francis quoted St. John Henry Newman during his homily — a quote that the Newman community knows well and keeps close to heart.
“He encouraged us to be … ‘kindly lights’ amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, ‘stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others.'”