Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Friend Who Parted and "Poped"

Father William Lockhart, I.C. died on May 15, 1892. He had been one of John Henry Newman's Oxford Movement followers and one of Newman's companions at Littlemore. Lockhart left Littlemore and became a Catholic before Newman, and became a Rosminian, joining the Institute of Charity. Father Lockhart became the first pastor at St. Etheldreda's in London, according to that historic church's website:

Father William Lockhart was a close friend and disciple of the great Anglican Divine, John Henry Newman. When he left Newman’s community at Littlemore in 1843, Newman was extremely pained. The event occasioned his famous sermon on The Parting of Friends. Within a couple of months Lockhart was received into the Catholic Church and soon afterwards entered the novitiate of the Institute of Charity (Rosminians). Newman himself and the rest of his Littlemore companions were received into the Catholic Church two years later.

Lockhart became the founder and first parish priest (1874-1892) of St Etheldreda’s, having previously been the first parish priest of Our Lady and St Joseph’s, Kingsland, London, which he served for almost twenty years.

Christopher Howse wrote in The Telegraph about Lockhart's troubles:

His first great exposure to obloquy came at the age of 24, when the head of his Oxford college, Exeter, wrote: "I am indeed shocked and grieved to hear of the step which Lockhart has taken. At the same time I am not altogether surprised at it. I never could feel confidence in him." Lockhart had not fought a duel or seduced an heiress. He had become a Catholic.

The scandal forced John Henry Newman to resign as vicar of St Mary's, the University church, for Lockhart had been under his pastoral care. Two years later, Newman too became a Catholic. If Newman suffered mistrust from some of his new coreligionists, it was nothing to Lockhart's trials. He joined a religious order called the Institute of Charity, which for the rest of his life was under a cloud.

That phrase "under a cloud" also applied to Father Newman during his Catholic career--the founder of the Institute of Charity, Antonio Rosmini, was under investigation for heresy, as this article describes. Rosmini died in 1855, just a year after he was cleared of any charges. Newman reflected on his death (in a letter to Lockhart?): "The news reached me unexpectedly and profoundly moved me, for although he belonged in a special way to your Institute, a man like him, as long as he lived, was the property of the whole Church. I fear that the tribulations he suffered have shortened his life. Yesterday morning I celebrated a Requiem for him: I hope he will not forget me as soon as he reaches heaven, in fact we may believe he has already arrived there". (I don't find any mention of a Requiem Mass in a note in Italian to J.B. Pagani on 10 July 1855 in Volume XVI of Newman's Letters and Diaries.)

Lockhart wrote Cardinal Newman: Reminiscences of fifty years since by one of his oldest living Disciples in 1891 after publishing a brief memoir in 1890, which began:

AFFECTIONATE veneration for my old Master in the Science of Truth, has made me wish to say something in honour of his memory; but I am now conscious that I have undertaken more than I can perform, except most imperfectly.

It is, I think, rather more than fifty years since I first had the privilege of knowing John Henry Newman. It was not long after I went to Oxford.

I saw him first on a certain day which I vividly remember. I was walking down High Street—it was between All Souls' and Queen's College. He was crossing, I think, to Oriel. My companion seized my arm, whispering to me, "Look, look there, that is Newman!" I looked, and there I saw him passing along in his characteristic way, walking fast, without any dignity of gait, but earnest, like one who had a purpose; yet so humble and self-forgetting in every portion of his external appearance, that you would not have thought him, at first sight, a man remarkable for anything.

It was only when you came to know him that you recognised or began to recognise what he was.

In speaking of my own reminiscences of Cardinal Newman and of his work, I shall necessarily have to speak of myself, but of myself merely as a type of the ordinary young Oxford man who came under Newman's wonderful influence.

For there was about him a spiritual power, an influence, or rather an effluence of soul, the force of moral greatness, which produced on some a feeling of awe in his presence. . . .

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