A group of students recently traveled to Rome for the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman into sainthood, the patron saint for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Newman Center.
Ten students and John Freeh, the director of the Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, flew to Rome on Oct. 9 and stayed for the canonization on Oct. 13, according to Bailey Tenopir, a senior biochemistry and microbiology double major and one of the students on the trip.
Tenopir said that while the trip was mainly for Newman’s canonization, it was also a chance to experience the culture of Rome.
Rev. Robert Matya, the chaplain for the Newman Center, said Newman was canonized after having two miracles attributed to him. One was healing a man of a serious back injury, and the other was helping a woman who was experiencing difficulties during her pregnancy. Both were present at the canonization Mass, according to Matya.
Newman was known as a scholar, especially for his book “The Idea of a University,” which led to the addition of Catholic apostolates on college campuses, Matya said. He said the University of Pennsylvania was the first to name a Catholic apostolate in Newman’s honor; UNL later did the same.
For Matya, he said his connection to Newman began after reading a reflection on Newman’s life and taking it as a purpose to guide his own life.
“That’s something that gave me great consolation at that time I was in college, and it has ever since,” Mayta said.
Marcus Schneider is the president of the Student Executive Board at the Newman Center and a senior elementary education major. He said Newman was recognized for his ability to reach out to college students.
“I definitely relate to him more as a student, just through his struggles and trials through his own studies,” Tenopir said. “Seeing that he made it through kind of gives me hope being a fifth year senior and still trying to get through school.”
Schneider said college students can also relate to Newman through his writings on friendship and love.
According to Schneider, the Newman Center incorporates Newman’s writings by promoting authentic and meaningful friendships with students on campus.
Tenopir said that Newman understood the emotional struggle of feeling alone, as he lost many of his friendships when he converted to the Catholic faith. She said students leaving home to attend college can especially find comfort in Newman.
“As our patron, I really think he watches over this community,” Tenopir said. “I think because so many of us look to him as an example and intercede through him, it helps this place feel more like home.”