By Cole Schnieders, Staff Writer
While it’s normal for students to pull all-nighters to study, it’s out of the ordinary to pull one just to have fun; it’s rarer still to stay up for a canonization mass. But that’s exactly happened at 3 a.m. this past Sunday, where over 30 Newman students gathered in the basement of Sacred Heart Hall to watch the canonization of St. John Henry Newman.
The night began with adoration under the stars. Father Adam Grelinger led a rosary asking for Newman’s intercession for Newman University.
“We can follow [Newman] intellectually, we can follow him in the ways of the faith and... we can pray for his intercession,” he said.
Afterwards, the party continued with a bonfire, s’mores and swing dancing on Dresselhaus Patio.
Several non-Newman students joined in the festivities, including Logan Peterson, a junior at Oklahoma State University, who was visiting his girlfriend.
“It’s going to be a tremendous honor to have this university's namesake canonized and declared a saint,” he said. “We can all grow a lot from [Newman].”
There were also students from Wichita State University and the University of Kansas on fall break who said they wanted to witness the canonization of a saint with other Catholics.
Senior and seminarian Matthew Cooke enjoyed the swing dancing, but was more excited for St. Newman.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have the namesake of your university canonized,” he said.
Following the bonfire, the lock-in participants prayed Night Prayer led by Fr. Adam.
“This is the universal prayer of the church,” Fr. Adam said. “When we pray the liturgy of the hours, we pray with the faithful from all over the world.”
As Fr. Adam said the final blessing of night prayer, “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night,” he and several others laughed; sleeping was not on the agenda.
The students played Hide and Seek, Sardines (reverse Hide-and-Seek) and took part in escape rooms set up by Campus Ministry. The escape rooms centered on the legend of the Sacred Heart Hall ghost, played by junior Murphy Obershaw.
Freshman and seminarian Conrad Sissell was on one of the few teams who escaped and before the 25-minute time limit.
“It was done really well,” Sissell said. “If I wasn’t at Newman, I would have thought it was done professionally.”
Seven hours after the lock-in started, the canonization mass began in Rome and students watched EWTN’s livestream.
Following the introductory rite, Pope Francis said, “After due deliberation and frequent prayer, through divine assistance, and having sought council of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed John Henry Newman [and others] to be Saints."
As soon as Pope Francis finished, the Newman crowd roared, clapping and yelling, and someone shouted, “Go Jets!” Slowly the crowd dispersed to home and bed. Those who stayed were able to hear Pope Francis’ homily focused on the ten lepers healed by Jesus.
“They did not let themselves be paralyzed because they were shunned by society,” Francis said. “They cried out to God, who excludes no one… this is the most important thing in life: to embrace the Lord of life.”
Francis ended his homily by quoting from St. Newman’s sermons.
“The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man,” he said.
Francis extolled the faithful to be “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom, referring to Newman’s famous hymn, “Lead Kindly Light.”
Fr. Adam echoed these sentiments of Pope Francis during the special canonization mass held the following night in St. John’s Chapel.
“The real glory of the saints… is a hidden work,” he said. “There is no greater human accomplishment than canonization.”
Fr. Adam said that St. Newman should have a special place in the hearts of students, faculty, and administrators alike.
“[St. Newman] was big on not just focusing on your… career preparation,” Fr. Adam said in a later interview. “It’s important that you’re fulfilled as a human, understand beauty and appreciate what your life is about in addition to being a nurse or businessman. I encourage people to read some of Newman’s stuff… You may not know why you are here as a student, but at this time, Newman was canonized, and you are at a university named after him. So maybe that’s pointing us to something.”
Those who were unable to join in the canonization party can still celebrate St. Newman’s canonization at the prayer breakfast to be held October 24 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center at 8 a.m.
Highlights will include Dr. Noreen Carrocci sharing stories of pilgrimage to Rome and the NU Troubadours singing, “Lead Kindly Light.” To register, go to https://bit.ly/NUPrayer2019.
PHOTO: Courtesy Photo. Marie O'Neal