Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Cardinal Newman archive to become digital library

The University of Manchester
22 May 2013

A three-year project to digitise the tens of thousands of documents produced by one of the most important and prolific Christian thinkers of the past 200 years has been launched.

Cardinal Newman
John Henry Cardinal Newman's enormous handwritten archive, kept at the Birmingham Oratory, will be captured by a team of experts using cutting edge equipment at The University of Manchester's John Rylands Library.

The documents, thought to number around 200,000, will then be re-housed at the Birmingham Oratory in custom made boxes, made by the collection care team at Rylands.

US-based National Institute for Newman Studies initiated the groundwork for the project over ten years ago.

It is now funding and managing the £386,000 digitization, which will transform the archive into a comprehensive digital library that will eventually include all of Newman’s published and unpublished works.

Newman, who died in 1890 aged 89, was an academic and a clergyman in the Church of England before he converted to Catholicism. 

Then, as a Catholic priest his influence increased still further and continues to this day. Pope Leo XIII made him a Cardinal in 1879.

In 2010, he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI, the final stage before being declared a saint.

Newman was a prolific writer, exchanging letters with the public, leading figures, and even prime ministers. His books and essays are read across the world.

He joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1845, and pursued a life of study and prayer, mainly in the Catholic parish of the Birmingham Oratory.

Father Ignatius Harrison, the Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, said: "Cardinal Newman is a towering figure of Christian thought, and has had an enduring influence on modern Western intellectual life.

"His long life of ministry and scholarship left a deep mark on the national consciousness of Britain, transforming its ecclesial, devotional, intellectual, and popular identities in ways we are still only beginning to understand.

"Through his prolific and widely influential writings and his example of practical holiness, Newman also left a deep and lasting impression on the non-English-speaking world.

"So this hugely important collection provides a unique record of an influential churchman who is one of the most important voices in recent western European thought."

Mary Jo Dorsey from the National Institute for Newman Studies said: "Our prime aim is to enhance and extend the reach of Newman's life, thought, and spirituality.

"An important goal of the Digital Library is to not only preserve and extend the Newman Archive to scholars around the globe, but to build a multidimensional research tool for the humanities.

"So we are delighted that the project will bring his teachings to the community of Newman scholars as well as to today's pluralistic, diverse society.

"A robust Digital Library and research platform created by our Pittsburgh colleague Crivella West, will be a full-text anthology of Newman's letters, diaries, manuscripts, and documents saved by the Cardinal.

Jamie Robinson, is a Senior Photographer at The John Rylands Library's Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care.

He said: "We’re delighted to be working with NINS and the Oratory on this prestigious project which will provide a wonderful research resource for scholars and students with an interest in nineteenth century studies.

“This is an enormous task, requiring two extra full time staff to cope with the workload – but one which we will relish.

"We are one of the few services in the UK to provide specialist digitisation and collection care of heritage and cultural collections so this commission is a perfect match with our expertise.

"No other organisation in the north of England specialises in the bespoke digitisation and collection care of heritage materials."

Notes for editors

Follow the progress of the project on

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, NINS, affiliated with Duquesne University, serves as the definitive resource of information on the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.
Kevin Mongrain, Executive Director of NINS, Mary Jo Dorsey Knowledge Manager at NINS, Fr Ignatius Harrison from the Birmingham Oratory, and James Robinson from the John Rylands Library are available for comment.

Images are available

For media enquiries contact: Mike Addelman
Press Officer
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Oratory plan for Brisbane

Catholic Leader - 21 April 2013
By Paul Dobbyn

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Birmingham Oratory Visit

If only we at the B3 blog had heard about this sooner - a missed opportunity to get to the bottom of the B3 scandal! (link) "It [the Bimingham Oratory]has also had it’s fair share of recent press headlines; be it the £30,000 metal theft in February where thieves wrenched a cross from it’s roof; or the ongoing campaign to "Free The Birmingham Oratory Three” (two priests and a lay brother who were exhiled from the Oratory in 2010). Come and find out more about this charming building and it’s history on our private guided tour."

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Payout in Birmingham Oratory Job Fight

Catholic & loving it! blog - 9.6.2012 (link) Here we go again... From the Birmingham Post (click here for bigger) It's been just over 750 days since three "entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever" members of the Birmingham Oratory were "ordered to go on retreat". We were told it was "just a time away to cool down" and they would "come back soon" though that turned out not to be the case. The Birmingham Oratory is a dead parrot. It is deceased. It is no more. Yes, of course, there is still a big building in Birmingham with a sign outside saying "Oratory" but it is in no meaningful sense an Oratory. You see, each Oratory is an independent community which elects it's own provost from among it's own members. The Birmingham Oratory is not independent, it is ruled from afar and it's community has been scattered across the continents. My advice to the puppeteers in London and Cardiff is this: We would all find it a lot easier to believe that the whole "Birmingham Three" thing was entirely above board, if you could perhaps refrain from unfairly dismissing your lay staff.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The great family of Father Philip

24 February 2012
L’Osservatore Romano (link)

Four hundred years ago, on 24 February 1612, with the Brief Christifidelium Quorumlibet Pope Paul V approved the Constitutions of the Congregation of The Oratory. The Oratory was the first, in chronological order, of those institutions which the Code of Canon Law in force today calls “Societies of Apostolic Life”. There are currently 34 such in existence, counting only those of pontifical right.

Gregory XIII canonically recognized it in 1575, the first Holy Year celebrated after the conclusion of the Council of Trent, but it had in fact existed since 1564, when the first followers of St Philip Neri, who had trained in The Oratory, were ordained priests and sent by Neri to San Giovanni dei Fiorentini: indeed in that year the Florentine community in the City had chosen to entrust their parish to Fr Philip.

Ordained on 23 May 1551 and the founder of the movement which took the name “Oratory”, he accepted unwillingly, out of obedience to authoritative instructions. However, he who in the residential college of priests at San Girolamo, who received stipends from the Confraternity of Charity to care for the church, had not felt that the parish apostolate was consonant with his spirit and the special vocation that motivated him, and had even given up his stipend in order to serve with total dedication but with the freedom to decide on his own forms of apostolate.

A few years later, in the middle of the Jubilee Year of 1575, Gregory XIII's Bull Copiosus in Misericordia assigned to “Philip Neri, a Florentine priest and the superior of several priests and seminarians”, the parish church of Santa Maria in Vallicella, at the same time setting up “a secular Congregation of Priests and Seminarians called “The Oratory”, with the mandate to “formulate honest Statutes and Regulations that do not contradict the sacred canons and the provisions of the Council of Trent”.

The compilation of the Constitutions was slow and was not an easy undertaking. The drafting of the Constitutional text began at the end of 1583; the Compendium Constitutionum Congregationis Oratorii which constituted the base for that larger and more organic edition of 1588, guaranteed, not only by the approval of the whole Congregation, by the authority of Fr Philip who, for the 1583 text had limited himself to a few instructions. The centralized structure of the Oratorian Houses which had come into being in the meantime corresponded with the intentions of Talpa, Tarugi, Bordini, Baronio and others, rather than with the inmost conviction of the Father; but he accepted the idea of his sons. With the prevalence, especially after the death of Fr Philip, of the line of fidelity to the founder's original intention, this juridical link of the houses was to disappear. The 1612 Constitutions were to be formulated with the clear intention, expressed by Fr Consolini, to include only “what had been bequeathed by him [Philip Neri] and which he had observed for so many years in his lifetime”.

The “path” the founder had marked out was already expressed in summary form in the preface to these Constitutions: “The holy Father Philip”, they read, “would direct with paternal inspiration the spirit and will of each one of his sons, in accordance with the temperament of each, considering himself satisfied to see them fired by piety and fervent in the love of Christ. Only gradually and with gentle tact (opedetemptim et suaviter) did he continue to test and to ascertain as a manifestation of the Lord's will what, by daily experience, was congenial and useful to them, day after day, in the achievement of holiness. And he would say persuasively that this kind of life really was especially suited to secular priests and lay people, and was in conformity with the divine will”.

It was a community of priests, therefore, totally dedicated to Christ in the exercise of their ministry, a family life based on attention and respect for the individual, whose specific temperament is a value to strengthen in goodness and in the light of the Spirit, to form in a responsible attitude of authentic freedom which not only is not opposed to the common progress, but also becomes a wealth within the community; an orderly family of priests, not bound by religious vows but living the spirit of vows in a secularism that we may describe as a mental disposition to perceiving the restlessness of men and women, being in the world to proclaim the Gospel without extraneousness or mortifying forms of paternalism.

Edoardo Aldo Cerrato

400th anniversary of Oratorian constitutions (link)
February 24, 2012

L’Osservatore Romano has published an essay commemorating the 400th anniversary of Pope Paul V’s approval of the constitutions of the Congregation of the Oratory, the society of apostolic life founded by St. Philip Neri. There are now 568 Oratorians worldwide, according to Vatican statistics.

“The holy Father Philip would direct with paternal inspiration the spirit and will of each one of his sons, in accordance with the temperament of each, considering himself satisfied to see them fired by piety and fervent in the love of Christ,” the constitutions state. “Only gradually and with gentle tact did he continue to test and to ascertain as a manifestation of the Lord's will what, by daily experience, was congenial and useful to them, day after day, in the achievement of holiness. And he would say persuasively that this kind of life really was especially suited to secular priests and lay people, and was in conformity with the divine will.”

Friday, 3 February 2012

Requiem Mass for Fr Gregory Winterton at the Birmingham Oratory

Free the B3: Justice for Fr. Dermot Fenlon has had several reliable reports that Fr. Dermot was allowed to attend the Reception of the Body and the Requiem Mass for his friend and brother Oratorian, Fr Gregory Winterton at the Birmingham Oratory on 23 and 24 January 2012.


Picture by Peter Jennings