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Bishop to dedicate Cardinal Newman institute in city

Sunday, September 14, 2003

By Marylynne Pitz, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Not many scholars are surrounded by their favorite author 24 hours a day.

That's why Stephanie Terril sounds jubilant when she talks to her friends.

"I live in the Newman library. That's my idea of heaven," she tells them.

At any hour, Terril can leave her tidy bedroom and delve into more than 3,500 volumes written by or about Cardinal John Henry Newman, an influential intellectual of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1991, Pope John Paul II declared Newman venerable, putting the 19th-century religious leader on the path to canonization.

Terril is the first visiting scholar at the National Institute for Newman Studies, situated in a suite of The Bristol, a residential building at 161 N. Dithridge St., Oakland.

"It's really a gift to have time for your work," Terril said. Her three-month stay at the institute, supported by a $5,000 stipend, frees her from teaching to earn a living and allows her time to work on publishing an article.

Bishop Donald W. Wuerl, a scholar of Newman's works, will bless the institute today.

Newman's writings continued to influence the church long after his death in 1890. He became known as the "invisible father" of Vatican II, a council from 1962 to 1965 that prompted reform and modernization in church liturgy and thinking.

The institute has three goals -- to raise funds for its visiting scholar program, catalog its 3,500 volumes with the help of librarians from the University of Pittsburgh and publish a journal twice a year that will be devoted to Newman and his work. The first issue is due out in March 2004, and Wuerl will write the lead article.

The Rev. Drew Morgan, a Roman Catholic priest at the Ryan Catholic Newman Center, home of the Congregation of the Oratory in Oakland, is the institute's director; he co-founded it with Catharine Ryan, of Squirrel Hill.

Art Crivella, president and chief executive officer of ASE Edge Inc., a Mt. Lebanon-based company, is donating the creation of a Newman Knowledge Kiosk, which will place all 93 volumes of Newman's writings on the Internet.

"This will throw Newman research into the 21st century," Morgan said, adding that Crivella's company was making a substantial gift by doing the work for free.

The kiosk will continue to cross-reference work on Newman as new scholarship is published.

"People could write their dissertation on the kiosk," Morgan said, and chat rooms for scholars could be set up, too.

"Newman viewed the human conscience as the echo of the voice of God within human beings," Morgan said in an interview in the Henry and Lou Gailliot Reading Room last week.

Henry Gailliot, of Squirrel Hill, a retired economic forecaster from Federated Investors, will raise funds for the institute. Gailliot is interested in preserving Newman's original manuscripts.

"His library, as he left it when he died, still exists in Birmingham, England, with all his manuscripts and all his books on which he would make notations. The rooms in Birmingham, England, are unique. They can't allow scholars in there now. The stuff's too fragile," Gailliot said.

In the next 10 years, Gailliot hopes the institute will raise enough funds to digitize all of Newman's works in the Birmingham library and make them available in their original form to scholars on the Internet.

"We can't do that with any of the other great philosophers of the church because their originals are long gone," Gailliot said.

Newman held an intensely personal view of the world, Morgan said.

"His motto was, 'Heart speaks to heart, not mind speaks to mind.' "

But, Terril said, "Nothing was more important to him than the truth."

For the first half of his 89 years, Newman was an Anglican priest. He was born in London in 1801 and ordained an Anglican priest in 1825.

In Oxford, England, he led the Oxford Movement, which aimed to remove secular and governmental influences from the Church of England.

Newman spent two years thinking about whether he was an Anglican or a Roman Catholic and in 1845, at age 44, was received into the Catholic Church. Two years later, he was ordained a Catholic priest.

"Newman said that truth had to be found in human experience. He worked out this search for truth in the external world," Terril said.

Newman's writings draw on the thinking of early church philosophers St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine as well as the work of Eastern Orthodox mystics.

Catharine Ryan admires Newman because his "life and work and mind encompass so many fields -- theology, philosophy, education, history, literature. In addition to that, his work has been found to be timeless."

Ryan will chair the board of the Newman studies journal.

The seeds of the institute here were sown in May 2001, when the Rev. Vincent Giese, a diocesan Roman Catholic priest in Chicago, died and willed his collection of 600 books to the Venerable John Henry Newman Association, which was then based in Chicago but has moved its headquarters to Pittsburgh.

Besides Giese's books, the institute has built the collection to 3,500 volumes by purchasing texts from an antiquarian Catholic bookstore in Minnesota and from St. Philip Neri Bookstore in Oxford, England.

Ultimately, the institute will house 21 separate collections devoted to specific aspects of Newman's life, influence and teachings. Of those, 13 are already funded by donors, many of whom attend the Congregation of the Oratory in Oakland.

The first oratory was founded by St. Philip Neri in Rome, Italy, in 1575. The religious community there sought to be of service to Romans and to convey the spirit of joy and service while addressing people's pastoral, spiritual and intellectual concerns.

In the 19th century, Newman founded an oratory in Birmingham, England. Pittsburgh's oratory was founded in 1961 by Cardinal John Wright while he was bishop of Pittsburgh. The local oratory ministers to students at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham College.

Marylynne Pitz can be reached at or 412-263-1648.

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