‘Spilling the tea’ on St. Newman during High Tea

Feb 22, 2024
The Umbarger family sits at a table during the St. John Henry Newman High Tea event in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.
The Umbarger family sits at a table during the St. John Henry Newman High Tea event in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.

St. John Henry Newman made a profound impact in England during his life from 1801-1890, and today his legacy lives on at Newman University in the heart of Wichita, Kansas.

One of the longest-standing Newman traditions, the beloved St. Newman High Tea event was held Wednesday, Feb. 21, following the St. Newman Mass. The teatime event has been going strong since the mid-1980s and celebrates both St. Newman’s birthday and his English tradition.

In honor of St. Newman’s 223rd birthday, Newman Events Coordinator Abbi Timmermeyer and Digital Content Specialist Amy Emerson hosted the first-ever live podcast episode for “The Newman Bond.” The duo showcased some of the fancily plated finger foods, fan favorites and credited the hard work of nearly 70 volunteers who made the event possible.

Video: High Tea with Amy Emerson & Abbi Timmermeyer

“We especially want to give a shoutout to High Tea Coordinator Sheryl Stanley,” Emerson said. “Sheryl heads the planning committee each year and provides many of the unique tea sets that High Tea is known for.”

The podcast hosts “spilled the tea” on St. Newman’s life and legacy, sharing lesser-known facts about the English theologian and his canonization as a saint.

“Even if you couldn’t make it to campus for this year’s High Tea, we encourage you to pour yourself a warm cup of tea in honor of St. Newman’s 223rd birthday,” said Timmermeyer.

View the Flickr Gallery with photos from High Tea.

Fun facts about St. John Henry Newman

St. John Henry Newman
St. John Henry Newman Day
  • St. Newman lived during the Victorian era and was the oldest child of three sons and three daughters.
  • He was a literary figure, writing poems, books including “The Idea of a University,” and hymns, one of which is “Lead, Kindly Light.”
  • He played the violin, or fiddle, and in one of his letters he wrote, “I always sleep better after music.”
  • St. Newman studied at Trinity College in Oxford (where four Newman study abroad students recently took a day trip).
  • He was known for his sense of humor and “great sarcastic wit,” according to an article by Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.
  • St. Newman was a theologian, historian, philosopher and priest who worked in prisons, hospitals and schools.
  • To become a saint, the Vatican must authenticate two miracles associated with that person’s intervention. For St. Newman, he was credited with curing a man’s spinal disease and a woman’s unstoppable internal bleeding that threatened the life of her child in the womb.
  • He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and ordained a Catholic saint by Pope Francis in 2019.
Video: St. Newman Mass – Homily by Father Adam Grelinger
Video: “Lead Kindly Light” performance by Newman University Chorale and Troubadours during the St. Newman Mass 2024.

Named for Newman, founded by the ASC sisters

Newman University is more than halfway through its 10th annual Heritage Month which celebrates St. Newman and the university’s founders, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC).

“This month is really about celebrating our history,” Timmermeyer said. “Even though Newman University has been around since 1933, it really started because St. Maria De Mattias, who was from a small village in Acuto, Italy, believed it was her life’s mission to help educate young women. She founded the ASC in 1834, and eventually those sisters went on to found the Newman University that we know and love.”

Catholic community members receive communion during the St. Newman Mass in St. John's Chapel.
Catholic community members receive communion during the St. Newman Mass in St. John’s Chapel.

In his homily during the St. Newman Mass, Father Adam Grelinger reflected on St. Newman’s words in his work, “The Idea of a University.”

“St. John Henry Newman says, ‘A Catholic university should be proud of its divine knowledge because it has something — a gift handed onto it from the generations before,'” Grelinger said. “Our heritage has been given to us and we can accept it, learn from it, cherish it and hopefully pass it on.”

Heritage Month was established in 2015 by the late Sister Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, when she noticed how many university-related milestones took place between Feb. 4 and March 4.

“Feb. 4 marks the feast day of St. Maria De Mattias, St. Newman’s birthday is Feb. 21 and the ASC sisters were established on March 4,” Rohrbach explained in a 2016 video interview.

Newman University aerial

Today, alumni, students and community members can celebrate many facets of Newman University’s history during February. Scroll to view more Heritage Month events yet to come, or click to see the full calendar.

View more episodes of The Newman Bond

The Newman Bond podcast series discusses a wide range of topics from Catholic faith to basketball featuring guests from the Newman community.