VANCOUVER – When Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman becomes a saint on October 13, local family members will be on hand to witness the event.
“Cardinal Newman was always part of my family’s life,” said Marybeth Yee, a founding member and sacristan at Holy Redeemer Parish, established in east Vancouver in 2000. “My grammy said to always remember Newman when you say your prayers.”
Yee, 54, said her great-grandfather was a first cousin to the cardinal, who was born in 1801 in London. Her grandmother was Margaret Mary Newman Kendrick.
Yee thought everything was in place for the family’s long-awaited trip to Rome for the canonization.
She had arranged the tickets, airport transfers and tours for herself, her husband Mike and her parents, Jack and Carol Newman Mahoney, who live near Boston. She found a vacation rental less than a mile from St. Peter’s Basilica. A priest friend, close to the Mahoney family, would be attending with them.
Just days before their scheduled departure, however, Carol Mahoney landed in the hospital with an infection. She is home now, but had to cancel the trip. Mike and Marybeth would have to go without her parents.
The disappointment cut deep, but Yee’s family knew what they must do.
“Though I am deeply sad my parents cannot attend the [canonization] Mass, I promised my mom I would represent her [and] Grammy and Grandpa Newman with honor and dignity,” Marybeth Yee said before leaving for Rome.
“My siblings are rallying,” Yee said. “My brother will drive up from Pennsylvania [on the weekend] to have a 3 a.m. watch party,” when EWTN will air a live broadcast of the canonization of Cardinal Newman and four others: Sister Mariam Thresia, Giuseppina Vannini, Dulce Lopes Pontes and Margarita Bays.
Cardinal Newman, an Anglican priest and theologian, was a leader in the Oxford Movement, a group of Anglicans who wanted to return England to its Catholic roots. After a series of clashes with his bishops, he converted to Catholicism in 1845. Pope Leo XIII named him cardinal in 1879. He died in 1890.
Mike and Marybeth Yee of Vancouver visit St. Peter’s Square during their trip to the Vatican to attend the October 13 canonization of family member Cardinal John Henry Newman. Photo: Courtesy Marybeth Yee
A long-cherished picture
One of four children, Yee grew up in the Boston area. Her grandmother, Margaret Mary Newman Kendrick, lived with the Mahoney family from the time Yee was a teenager until her death in 1986.
“She was my best friend,” Yee said.
A guiding influence, Yee’s grandmother said the rosary three times a day and brought with her the family’s long-cherished picture of Cardinal Newman that now hangs in Jack and Carol Mahoney’s home, Yee said.
That picture has a handwritten inscription alongside it, dated September 24, 1879, the same year the soon-to-be saint was elevated to cardinal.
Canonization, a long and thorough process, requires two miracles that are attributed to the intercession of the prospective saint. In Cardinal Newman’s case, the two miracles are the inexplicable healing of a Massachusetts man’s debilitating spinal condition and the sudden end to a pregnant Chicago woman’s profuse bleeding that endangered her life and that of her baby. The woman and the man had prayed to the cardinal to intercede.
A few weeks ago, in her parish bulletin, Carol Mahoney reflected on the upcoming canonization.
“We have been waiting for this day for quite some time, and it is certainly exciting to have a cousin in the family who is a saint,” she wrote. “We pray to him all the time, and it is a great comfort.”
Cardinal Newman was a brilliant thinker, apologist and author. His writings include his spiritual biography, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (A Defense of One's Own Life); The Idea of a University, a series of lectures on “the disciplined intellect;” and Meditations and Devotions, an outline for a path to holiness.
The cardinal’s lessons on that path to holiness aren’t lost on the Yees and Mahoneys.
“I’m always thinking of heaven,” Yee said. “I know that my grammy is up in heaven, and she is overlooking all this.”
Local Newman Centers celebrate canonization of their namesake
SEATTLE – Catholic Newman Centers in Seattle and Bellingham will mark the canonization of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman with special events October 12. The canonization is Sunday, October 13.
At Prince of Peace Catholic Newman Center at the University of Washington, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne will celebrate the Vigil Mass at 5 p.m. October 12. Mass will be followed by a reception featuring food, a short presentation on Cardinal Newman (including why Catholic college centers are named after him), music and dancing.
The pursuit of truth is something both universities and theologians have in common,” said Dominican Father Jordan Bradshaw, director of the UW Newman Center, the fifth oldest in the U.S., according to its website.
The UW Center is located at 4502 20th Ave. N.E., Seattle. RSVP for the event here.
In Bellingham, the WWU Catholic Newman Center will host an ice cream celebration and distribute prayer cards after a 6:30 p.m. Mass celebrated on campus, said Emma Fisher, the center’s campus ministry director.
Janet Cleaveland is a member of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver.