Students from Baldwin Wallace, Cleveland State, Case Western Reserve and Ashland universities, The University of Akron, Oberlin College and the College of Wooster headed to downtown Cleveland on Oct. 13 – but not for the Cleveland Browns football game.
The students, who are involved in Newman Campus Ministry at their respective schools, joined campus ministers and others for the 5:30 p.m. liturgy at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist to celebrate the canonization of a new saint: Cardinal John Henry Newman, after whom the campus ministry program is named. Bishop Nelson Perez presided at the Mass, with Father Vince Hawk, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Loudonville, director of Newman Campus Ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and chaplain for Ashland’s Newman Campus Ministry; Father Dan Schlegel, diocesan vicar for clergy and religious; and Father Rich Samide, parochial vicar at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Wooster, as concelebrants.
Newman Campus Ministry students served as lectors, musicians and gift bearers at the Mass. A.J. Hoy coordinated the music and liturgy plan for the Mass.
“This is a great day for the Church. We have five new saints,” Father Hawk said in his homily. “Every time there’s a new saint, it provides hope for us that yes, it can be done.” He said we are celebrating Cardinal John Henry Newman – now St. John Henry Newman – a convert, teacher, theologian, philosopher and “a gift to all of us.” Father Hawk said we also celebrate the new saint’s legacy, which has carried into our diocese in the Newman Campus Ministry program, which is active on seven non-Catholic college campuses in the eight-county Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
Father Hawk said Cardinal Newman lived the kind of life to which we all should aspire, “a life of courage and conviction. He was constantly in search of the truth.” As an Anglican and later an Anglican priest, Father Hawk said St. John Henry Newman studied Scripture and was moved to go deeper. In fact, he was drawn to the Catholic Church, converted, became a Catholic priest and later a cardinal. But his courage and conviction did not come without cost, Father Hawk said, explaining that he sacrificed much. He had a way of challenging people and was both loved and hated by liberals and conservatives. But he used his wit and wisdom to bring them together, Father said.
“He was negatively impacted. He became a leper; he was marginalized because of his courage. Are we willing to be like him, to risk all?” Father Hawk asked.
He recalled one young man who was converting to Catholicism but was convinced that Pope Paul VI was wrong in his beliefs about contraception as presented in his encyclical “Humanae Vitae.” He wanted to make his case before converting. Father Hawk said the student studied the encyclical and did further research for about a year before admitting to him that the pope was right. The young man then entered the Church.
Father Hawk shared some of his favorite quotes from St. John Henry Newman, noting “that’s how I want to lead my life – in a quiet, unassuming movement of holiness.”
Father said in his 17 years of priesthood, this was the first time he had preached before his bishop. “He’s sitting behind me and could be making faces,” he quipped.
After Mass, Bishop Perez thanked Father Hawk for what he called his wonderful homily. He told the congregation that they should not be afraid to share their faith, which is a gift. He also reminded them of something he often tells confirmation classes and students during school visits: “Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of God working in though, through you and sometimes despite you.”
A chance encounter with a CSU student while waiting to cross the street shortly after his installation as bishop of Cleveland was responsible for a reorganization of the diocesan Newman Campus Ministry program, Bishop Perez said.
“If that young woman had not had the courage to talk to me and to ask me to help college students, this might not have happened,” he said, referring to the new organizational structure with Father Hawk as director and Joanne Rymarczyk-Piotrkowski as assistant director.
The bishop also introduced the five new missionaries from The Culture Project who arrived in Cleveland the night before and are beginning their work in the diocese this week. They will visit schools, parishes and other organizations to encourage youth to be more fully alive in Christ and to live lives of sexual integrity.
A pizza social in the diocesan conference room followed Mass, offering an opportunity for students from the various campuses to share ideas and conversation.
Click HERE to learn more about St. John Henry Newman.
Read more about all five saints who were canonized on Oct. 13 in Rome HERE.