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  1. Benedict XVI and Cardinal Newman Edited by Peter Jennings

  2. Aids in Africa— How did it ever happen ? by Frank Ham

  3. Mud and Mosaics by Fr Gerard rathe WF

  4. Destined for a Mission by Fr Kevin Wiseman WF

  5. The Catholic community at Bishop's Waltham by Peter Finn

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"Benedict XVI and Cardinal Newman" Edited by Peter Jennings
Commentary taken from and from material supplied by the Editor

(source : Picture by Colin Mason, Family Publications, Oxford)

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols,
and Peter Jennings, pictured at the launch of "Benedict XV1 And Cardinal Newman", edited by Peter.

Taken under the portrait of Cardinal Newman in the Cardinals' Corridor
at the Venerable English College in Rome, on 17 October.

* * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

WILL IT BE BENEDICT XVI, the first Pope of the twenty-first century, who will canonize John Henry Newman – the best-known English churchman of the nineteenth century – and declare him a Doctor of the Church?

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was first introduced to the work of Cardinal Newman as a young seminarian, and has taken a keen interest in him ever since. The introductory addresses given by Cardinal Ratzinger at the Academic Symposium, “John Henry Newman, Lover of Truth”, organised by the International Centre of Newman Friends, are included in this book, together with his important address about Conscience and Truth, presented at the 10th Workshop for Bishops, in Dallas, Texas.

The book also contains an in-depth chronology of Newman’s life and a number of little known and unpublished pictures, including a previously undiscovered picture of Dr Newman, founder of the English Oratory of St Philip Neri, from the archives of the Birmingham Oratory.

The editor, Peter Jennings, has skilfully assembled important contributions from a number of leading churchmen including specially written essays by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, and Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory. The thought-provoking sermons given during the Newman Centenary celebrations in Birmingham during 1990 are published together here for the first time.

The book concludes with the election of Benedict XVI, his first message and blessing, his homily to the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel the following day, as well as the homily at his Inaugural Mass in St Peter’s Square.

This is an engaging and valuable resource, in large (A4) format, extensively illustrated in full colour, that will appeal to both Newman scholars and devotees alike, at a vital time in the history of the Cause for Cardinal Newman being declared a saint of the Church.

(Available from Family Publications in Hardback, price £24.95)

Peter Jennings is Press Secretary to the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, and the Archdiocese of Birmingham. He is also Press Secretary to the Birmingham Oratory. A journalist, writer and broadcaster, he has specialised in Religious Affairs, and in particular the Catholic Church and the Vatican, since the mid-1970’s.


“A couple of years ago, we received reports at the Birmingham Oratory, of a cure which had taken place in Boston, in the United States of America, of a man, a deacon. I am not at liberty to give the name of this man, who had been suffering from severe spinal problems, and who has now recovered, as a result of the intercession of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman.”

These were the encouraging words of Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Cause for the beatification and canonisation of Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), said during his address at the launch of an engaging and profusely illustrated new book: “POPE BENEDICT XVI AND CARDINAL NEWMAN”, edited by Peter Jennings, (published by Family Publications, Oxford), at the Venerable English College in Rome on the evening of Monday, 17 October.

Father Chavasse continued: “What of the Cause now? Where are we? Before answering those questions in more detail I should like to thank one other individual, who is unfortunately unable to be present this evening, my good friend and colleague, the Avvocato Andrea Ambrosi, based here in Rome, a most active member of the college of Postulators, who is now involved most intimately in advancing the Cause to a new stage, and whose assistance at this time has become indispensable.

“Postulators are not known for rushing, indeed, they cannot, given the caution needed before anyone can be certain that a presumed miraculous cure is just that. Time has to elapse, evidence has to be gathered and so forth. Well, time has elapsed, evidence has been gathered, and guided by the Avvocato Ambrosi’s expert knowledge and, with the approval of the Archbishop of Boston, a tribunal opened there on 25 June this year to investigate this cure.

“Much work has been done and much remains to be done: the tribunal will not finish its work until the beginning of February next; the last session is scheduled for 6 to 7 February 2006.

“After that, all the evidence gathered comes to Rome and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints begins its meticulous work, examining the medical and theological aspects of it. If these processes end positively, undoubtedly a miracle will be announced and Cardinal Newman, the best-known English churchman of the nineteenth century, will be declared Blessed in the usual way.

“Obviously we have a long way to go and nothing is certain; but this is the furthest we have got so far, so I commend this whole matter to your prayers, that all will go well and that before too long has elapsed we will be able to be gathered together again to celebrate the happy conclusion of another stage of the great English Cardinal’s journey to officially recognised Sainthood.”

At the start of his address, Father Chavasse, said: “I warmly welcome the appearance of this book on Pope Benedict and Cardinal Newman. It brings together under one cover a great selection of talks, sermons and addresses given to commemorate a variety of anniversaries and events concerned with Cardinal Newman’s life, as well as several important new contributions which highlight the relevance of the great Cardinal’s life and teachings for the contemporary Church.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the well-known Catholic journalist and broadcaster Peter Jennings, the book’s editor, Press Secretary to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, and to the Archdiocese of Birmingham, for the skilful way in which he has selected the material, as well as for the way in which he has brought together from many sources the various illustrations, which form such a notable part of the book and help to make it the attractive work it is.

Similarly, I should like to thank Denis Riches and his team at Family Publications in Oxford for working so hard, often against the clock, so that the publication date was achieved.

“As the current Provost of Newman’s foundation, the Birmingham Oratory, I am especially concerned that the book is appreciated as a particularly helpful addition to the ever-growing list of Newman titles, and in a special way as a help in advancing the Cardinal’s Cause for Beatification and Canonisation.
“One of the works which occupies us much in Birmingham is that of spreading knowledge of, and devotion to, the Cardinal, ‘our Cardinal’ as we always call him. This evening’s gathering provides an opportunity for me to thank those at home who work so tirelessly to this end, especially Father Gregory Winterton, former Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, whose indefatigable labours over so many decades have been of such importance.

“The Cause depends on so many others – the Spiritual Family The Work, here in Rome, at Littlemore and elsewhere, are marvellous disciples and heralds of Cardinal Newman; Fathers from the Oratories of Pittsburgh and Toronto have done much to spread devotion in North America.”

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, who contributed a chapter, “The Importance of Newman Today”, and the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, who contributed a chapter, “Newman’s Pastoral Work in Birmingham”, also spoke at the book launch.

Peter Jennings, Editor of “Benedict XVI AND CARDINAL NEWMAN” stressed: “I hope that this book will increase popular devotion to Cardinal Newman, the best-known churchman of the nineteenth century. As a young seminarian, the present Pope discovered Newman in January 1946. Two years later, in February 1948 I was baptised by the great Newman scholar, Fr Stephen Dessain, at the Birmingham Oratory. Just as Pope Benedict has continued his interest and devotion to the great English cardinal, I have over the years helped the Fathers of Newman’s Birmingham Oratory to promote worldwide interest in Newman through the media. I hope and pray that it will be Benedict XVI who will canonise John Henry Newman and declare him a Doctor of the Church.”


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"AIDS in Africa How did it ever happen ?" Written by Frank Ham

Taken from the website of African Books Collective :

" This book offers a unique personal perspective on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. It is a first person narrative of a European who tested positive in the early eighties. The author owes his survival to tell the tale not least to the drugs, which in his home country are accessible to any person who is HIV positive.

Frank Ham visited Malawi in 1999 and repeatedly thereafter to try and understand precisely why AIDS has been so much more prevalent in Africa than the West. He pins much of his analysis on the scarcity and affordability of the drugs, without which the lives of millions are being destroyed or threatened. He also considers environmental factors, the role of the Christian churches, and how AIDS is affecting the continent's youth.
The narrative challenges and breaks the silence on many dimensions of the disease which are still widely taboo. Indeed finding a publisher in Africa for a frankly written account of AIDS, from the point of view of a homosexual was no mean feat. "

999087624X 223pp 2004 Kachere Series
£11.95 / $22.95 - Cased
Price:  £11.90

(Taken from the book cover)

"Frank Ham, an Englishman in Holland

Born near London in 1945, the author spent most of his childhood in Holland where his father worked for the Dutch airline, KLM.

After Primary School there and Seconday School in England, he joined the White Fathers in 1963 with the intention of becoming a missionary priest. However, after three and a half years training, the gradual realisation of his homosexuality and a feeling at the time that it was not compatible with the priesthood brought an early end to this career.

After several temporary jobs, he eventually re-trained as a computer programmer, which is a job he still does to this day. He lived and worked in London until 1982, and then after a brief stay in Berlin, he moved to Amsterdam, where he has lived for the past 21 years.

He tested HIV-positive in 1984, and although he now uses the new drugs, he survived for 18 years without, thanks probably to an unusally strong immune system. But most of his friends — infected before they even knew of the virus — were dead by the end of the century.

He visited Malawi in 1999, the first of seven visits, precisely to try to understand why Aids has hit Africa so much harder then the west, and it was his failure to persuade European politicians of the enormity of the catastrophe there that led him to write this book.

Frank Ham is not his real name. He chose to use it as a pen-name some years ago to protect relatives of friends who died of Aids."

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"Mud and Mosaics, An African Missionary Journey
From The Niger To The Copper Belt"

written by
Fr Gerard Rathe WF

Published by Samuel Walker Ltd 1961

Transcribed by Robbie Dempsey
with further illustrations added

In the Introduction to this book Fr Rathe writes :

" Early in 1957 I was invited to join Father Vincent de Decker, also a White Father, who was planning a trip of some 20,000 miles through Africa to get firsthand information on present day Mission problems, whilst at the same time working for the International Exhibition of Brussels and some commercial firms, which latter had undertaken to cover all the expenses.

I was invited to join the party as an interpreter when in British or Commonwealth territory. We had a professional photographer, Leo, in the party.

The tour we made through the Missions must have been a great experience for Leo for he is not a Catholic. My first, and rather unexpected job as an interpreter was between Father de Decker, who comes from Brussels and speaks no Flemish, and our chief photographer, Leo, who comes from Antwerp and speaks no French.

We left Paris for Africa during Holy Week in the middle of a transport strike. This book is my journal, which I wrote more or less from day to day. I have thought it better not to bore the reader with a daily calendar, leaving only a few key dates to guide those who might like to work out how long we spent on any particular section of our journey.

"Mud and Mosaics" is quite a substantial piece of work, running to 24 chapters. The full text (plus illustrations) can be found on Page 40 of the HISTORIES section. CLICK HERE to go straight to it.

We are indebted to Robbie Dempsey for the work involved in scanning this publication for us.

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"Destined for a Mission"

An autobiography written by
Fr Kevin Wiseman WF

Published by KAAS Publishing Corporation
And re-printed with the kind permission of his sisters
(Marie, Celia and Bernie)

Fr Wiseman died 19th March 2001, aged 80 (see Page 5 the Obituaries section).
The following is taken from the covers of his autobiography.

(cover sketch by Stanley, circa 1942)

Kevin, as he likes to be called, is a White Father (now the Missionaries of Africa). He was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England in 1921, While studying for the priesthood in France dring World War II, he was imprisoned by the Nazis on suspicion of espionage. A good part of this autobiography describes the circumstances of his detention and his life with the other students and priests in the prison at St Denis. It also gives us poignant details of his isolation in Cell #59 at Fresnes, where he was sentenced to be shot. Powerful prayers led to his eventual release. He continued his studies after the war and was ordained a priest in 1949. He was a missionary in Tanzania, Africa, for sixteen years.

Fr Kevin was invited by Bishop Remi De Roo to come and work in the diocese of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in 1968. He first came to Salt Spring Island, then to Sydney, French Creek, Comox, Ladysmith and finally to Nanaimo, where he retired from parish work in 1991. He has embarked on a new career with Dwelling Place (an intermediate care facility) with his adopted family, Aurel and Ching (Blas) Muego.

Fr Kevin (pictured left) presently enjoys a varied role in the community : as a managing director of Dwelling Place , and as a chef trying out recipes ; and as chaplain for Bethlehem Retreat centre. He continues to minister to the Central Vancouver Island communities, filling in where he is needed.

Kevin brought with him to this New World valuable experiences from prison and the Third World. In this "New World" he continues to face new and unexpected challenges.

John and Margaret Morton have kindly lent us a copy of Fr Kevin's book.
An illustrated version of Part 1 can now be accessed by clicking here.
(Page 9 of the HISTORIES section)

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The Catholic Community at Bishop’s Waltham – A History

A captivating story of faith and quiet heroism.

by Peter Finn


The story of Bishops Waltham Catholics from 700AD to the present. It includes the 8th century saints, the recusants, the mission priests of penal times, the White Fathers, and the recent parish churches and their priests.

The furnishings and artefacts of the present church are also described and the cemetery interments listed.

 A 36-page booklet with full colour illustrations.

Price £4 (plus £1 if posted).

Available directly from Peter and at the church of Our Lady Queen of Apostles, Bishop’s Waltham.

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