High Tea finds new name, keeps old traditions

Feb 06, 2020
High Tea St. Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman University

Newman University’s annual High Tea has a new name. Now known as the St. John Henry Newman High Tea, it is keeping the same, long-lasting practices that make it a Newman tradition.

The event will be held at two different times Tuesday, Feb. 18 — the more formal tea from 2-4 p.m. and a casual tea from 5-7 p.m. — in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.

The Celebrations Task Force made the decision to rename the event to reflect the university’s namesake being canonized in 2019.

Assistant Director of Campus Ministry Emily Simon ‘16, who sits on the task force, said the decision was made due to the event’s timing.

“The week that high tea always takes place is also St. John Henry Newman Week,” said Simon. “Because of that, we decided that renaming the event was a good idea … to recognize the connection to the history of St. John Henry Newman.”

Students celebrate during a past High Tea event at Newman University.

Though the change in name is new, High Tea has been a tradition since the ’80s, event coordinator Sheryl Stanley said.

“The High Tea tradition was started as a way to honor the school’s namesake, Cardinal John Henry Newman during Cardinal Newman week and as a reminder of his English heritage,” she said. “Over the years, the tradition has always included volunteers — staff, administration, professors, alumni and students — that bake, make and plate food and then serve them to the guests.”

Newman students volunteer at a past High Tea event.

Simon, who has seen high tea both as a student and a staff member, said this event has never failed to impress.

“It brings in a huge crowd and not just current students and current faculty and staff, but people who have retired, people who are alumni, people who have just enjoyed this tradition year after year,” she said.

Stanely said many guests take the tradition to the next level.

“I love that many guests embrace the English tradition and come in hats and even gloves to the event. It is amazing to see so many working together to provide this event for each other but dressing for the occasion is really fun,” she said.

Denise Cooley and Cheryl Golden enjoy a past High Tea event.

Cheryl Golden, Ph.D., who volunteers for the St. John Henry High Tea each year, said the event brings out the best in the university.

“It has become an extravaganza of hard work and great love for this university that people put forward. We try to bake recipes that are as authentic as possible historically from the time of Newman in the 19th century,” she said.

“My personal favorite are the shortbread cookies. I have a recipe from Shirley Rueb, who used to be our registrar. She is now retired. It’s the best recipe for shortbread I’ve ever tasted.”

Simon said she sends an email before the event asking for volunteers, adding it is truly a group effort to pull off this event.

“A lot of people contribute to make this happen. It’s good food. It’s good conversation. And it’s very beautiful.”

Brandon Steiner ’19 holds a plate of treats at a past High Tea event.

Stanley said this event is important because it provides a time of reflection and connection to both Newman University’s heritage and community.

“This beloved event helps us take a few minutes to relax and appreciate the heritage that led to a plan to educate students and adults in a way that promoted a liberal or well-rounded view of the world, and to be thankful for those around us that help us each day in more ways than we usually realize,” she said. “Each of us has our personal cross to carry but together we are stronger with the opportunity to help each other.”