We are hoping to build a Newman Centre in what is at the moment a derelict building next to the Birmingham Oratory church.
The Birmingham Oratory owns an extensive collection of Newman materials, books, journals, theses and research papers, manuscript archives, and numerous personal items that belonged to the Cardinal and were used by him. At present all these are scattered in various corners of Oratory House and are not conveniently accessible by members of the public. We need to bring all these materials and resources together in one place, furnished and equipped for the purpose. This would make Newman’s patrimony publicly accessible, and also ensure its proper conservation for the future.
The Newman Centre we are envisaging would include the following: our library collection of books by and about him, some 300 boxes of manuscript archives, a museum with display cabinets for his vestments, robes, and memorabilia, study facilities for visiting researchers, a café, a book shop, a repository, and a lift for disabled access.
We are also praying that Blessed John Henry will soon be canonized. An alleged miracle attributed to his intercession is now being examined by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, in Rome. We wait and pray. In the meanwhile it seems to us that now is the right time to be planning in detail how best to make Newman’s legacy better available. Our projected Newman Centre is central to that plan.
The cost? Some three million pounds stirling. The Fathers do not have the means to fund it ourselves, nor does the Oratory parish. If it is to happen, we shall need to ask for donations from appropriate grant making trusts and charitable foundations, both in the UK and abroad. Newman has many devotees all over the world. We shall need to approach many individuals, many corporate bodies, Oratories, and other religious communities around the world.
At this early stage we are not asking for money, but for prayers. Please pray that John Henry will soon be canonized, and also that divine providence will enable our vision of a Newman Centre to become fact. This will ensure the preservation and widest possible diffusion of our beloved Cardinal’s rich legacy, spiritual, theological, and Oratorian.
Fr.Ignatius Harrison, Provost. June 2016.