Hundreds gathered at St Chad’s Cathedral on Sunday 20th October to join in joyful celebration of Saint John Henry Newman.
The ecumenical vespers (evening prayer) was also the unveiling and blessing of a new icon of Saint John Henry Newman, by iconographer Mrs Noreen Thornhill from Coventry.
The service was presided by Cathedral Dean Mgr Timothy Menezes accompanied by the Very Revered Matt Thompson, Dean at St Philips Cathedral.
The Cathedral filled with wonderful music as the choirs of St Chads and St Philips Cathedrals sang together with the newly restored organ.
Along with Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bishop David McGough, the service was attended by the Anglican bishops of Birmingham, Aston, Coventry and Lichfield: Bishops David Urquhart, Anne Hollinghurst, Dr Christopher Cocksworth and Michael Ipgrave, as well as the Lord Mayor Mohammed Azim and Lady Mayoress Miss Bushra Bi, Deputy Lieutenant Professor Deirdre Kelly, High Sheriff Michael Kuo and members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders.
Special guest Monsignor Roderick Strange, Visiting Professor at St Mary’s University Twickenham and expert on John Henry Newman, preached the sermon. Using examples from Newman’s life, he preached on the value and power of friendship – ecumenical and interreligious and of the many conversions one can undergo in life as God calls us further into holiness.
The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, said:
“I am very grateful to Archbishop Bernard for the invitation to join with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in thanksgiving for the canonisation of St John Henry Newman.
“His quest for unity is an inspiration for Christians of many different traditions, and he is also a saint for the West Midlands, where he made his last home and lived out his Christian discipleship.
“His prayers will be a support for us all as we walk together on the way, learning to be the Church of Jesus Christ in this part of England.”
O God, who bestowed on the priest, St John Henry Newman
the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example,
we may be led out of shadows and images
into the fullness of your truth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever,