Theme: New York
Newman enthusiasts and scholars joined members and friends of The Spiritual Family The Work (“The Work”) in New York City on Saturday, October 23 for the Cor ad Cor Loquitur conference on the topic of the recently beatified Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman and to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Mother Julia Verhaughe, foundress of The Work.
The day began with a Mass celebrated by The Most Reverend James Conley, Auxiliary Bishop of Denver. Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations, was also present. Reverend Peter Willi, F.S.O., International Superior of the Priests’ Community of The Work, concelebrated the Mass together with Rev. Joseph Koterski,S.J. and other priests. In his homily, Bishop Conley reflected on the matters and experiences of the Faith that Blessed Newman and Mother Julia shared, particularly on “the interior authority of conscience”, “the exterior authority of the Church” and “a strong faith in divine Providence.”
Bishop Conley recounted how Blessed Newman viewed conscience as “the echo of God’s voice” and how Mother Julia understood this voice to be heard in “silent hours of adoration and meditation … bearing light and life”. Bishop Conley related the deep devotion each of them shared for the institution of the Catholic Church as the Mystical Body of Christ and that, while recognizing the deep wounds that are often caused by the weaknesses of her human representatives, they nevertheless gave their lives wholly and completely to love and serve the Church.
A prayerful tone for the day was set. Several Sisters of the Spiritual Family The Work, clothed in their white choir robe, contributed with a special hymn containing words of Mother Julia. Voices of the entire congregation were raised in song and prayer, accompanied by organist Robert Prior and cantor Elizabeth Sniffen.
The conference was moderated by Reverend Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., professor of philosophy at Fordham University, which co-sponsored the event. As he introduced each speaker, Father Koterski exhibited the keen interest in Newman that had drawn nearly two hundred people together for the day’s event, which ran smoothly due to the help of many good friends of the local community of The Work.
Reverend George Rutler, Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour in New York City, started off the conference with a talk titled, “Newman’s Idea of Personality”. Appropriate as the first speaker, Father Rutler explained how “Cor ad cor loquitur - Heart speaks to heart”, the title of the conference and the cardinalatial motto of Blessed Newman, expressed Newman’s vision of man. Father Rutler described Newman’s teaching on how Christ develops the personality and depicted how it is a development of the principle summed up by St. Thomas Aquinas, “Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.” Father Rutler offered his own insights into how these teachings of Blessed Newman are still relevant in today’s often confused world and how Newman’s sincere friendships and concerns for those in his life offer a superior notion of personal relationships that does not ignore man’s fundamental human nature. In addition to being a Pastor, Father Rutler hosts the EWTN program Christ in the City and is the author of many books and articles including the recently published book, “Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections”.
From this foundation and overview of one aspect of Newman’s teachings, Sister Kathleen Dietz, F.S.O., spoke next on what distinguishes a Christian from others. Using the Letter to Diognetus that addressed this issue in the early Church, Sister Kathleen drew parallels between Diognetus and the preaching of Newman. Each characterized Christians as citizens of heaven yet living in the midst of the world, playing a fundamental role as the soul of the world. Sister Kathleen is a member of the International Centre of Newman Friends and faculty member of the Theology Department at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. [read more …]
The final speaker of the conference was Professor John Kezel, Ph.D. of Fordham University, who spoke on “Priests, Prophets, and Kings: Ecclesiology in Newman and Tolkien”. In a heartfelt delivery, Dr. Kezel shared his enthusiasm for John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and illuminated the influences of Cardinal Newman and the fathers of the Birmingham Oratory in Tolkien’s writing. Dr. Kezel discussed Cardinal Newman’s conversion to the “Church of Rome” in light of its impact on England and many of its inhabitants, particularly the young Tolkien whose education was supervised by the Oratorian Fathers after the death of his mother. Dr. Kezel explained how Newman viewed the role of the Church as vital in carrying out the three offices of Christ in the world as Priest, Prophet, and King. He identified the characters that exemplified these three roles and shared insights and anecdotes about J.R.R. Tolkien, describing how Tolkien sought to create “a myth for England”. As well as being a scholar of both Newman and Tolkien, Dr. Kezel has been a Professor of Medieval Studies and currently serves as the Director of the St. Edmund Campion Institute for the Advancement of Intellectual Excellence at Fordham University, which is tasked with assisting students obtain academically prestigious fellowships and promoting the overall intellectual activity of the University. [read more …]
The conference concluded with a reading of Blessed Newman’s poem, Dream of Gerontius, by Jesuit Seminarian David Paternostro, S.J. as Gerontius and Madeleine Metzler who read the part of his guardian angel. They were joined by fellow Fordham students in a well-received recitation of the poem. Local high school students Raphael and Augustine Glazov participated in the reading, delivering a stellar and convincing performance as demons. Despite its serious topic contemplating death and final judgment, the recitation of the poem by the young seminarian, college and high school students transformed the closing of the scholarly conference into a family gathering. Accompanied by Cara Hubly from the University of St. Thomas on the piano, the entire room enthusiastically joined the young people in singing the part of the choirs of angels in the hymn, “Praise to the Holiest in the Height.”
Audio recordings of the three speakers are available by contacting Peniel Productions at
+1(914) 698-1868 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program of the conference: program-23-october-2.pdf