By Simon Caldwell
LONDON (CNS) — An American who was inexplicably healed from a crippling spinal condition after praying to the intercession of Cardinal John Henry Newman will read the Gospel and serve as a deacon when Pope Benedict XVI beatifies the cardinal in September.
Deacon Jack Sullivan of Marshfield, Mass., told Catholic News Service he was asked to participate in the Sept. 19 Mass by Father Timothy Menezes, the master of ceremonies for the beatification, when the English priest recently visited the United States.
“I am extremely excited that I have been asked to assist at the papal Mass as deacon, for it best reflects my simple prayer, ‘Cardinal Newman, help me to walk so that I can return to classes and be ordained a deacon,'” he told CNS in a July 29 e-mail.
“For years I suffered as patiently as I could and was rewarded instantly by a simple prayer,” he said. “I am most grateful now that the church has seen fit to reward Cardinal Newman as he courageously followed the light of truth.”
Pope Benedict will beatify Cardinal Newman, a 19th-century theologian who founded the Oxford Movement to bring the Anglican Church back to its Catholic roots, Sept. 19 in Cofton Park in Birmingham, England.
Father Jan Nowotnik, the Birmingham Archdiocese’s coordinator for liturgy, said that, besides proclaiming the Gospel, “Deacon Sullivan and his wife, Carol, along with other representatives will form part of a procession that will immediately follow the Rite of Beatification when the new Blessed John Henry Newman is proclaimed.”
Pope Benedict is waiving his own rules to perform a beatification as pope for the first time, instead of sending a high-ranking Vatican official to conduct the ceremony. The pope has studied his writings throughout his adult life and, in 1991 as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, told the U.S. bishops that Cardinal Newman was the most important thinker on the subject of conscience since St. Augustine of Hippo.
The Sullivans will spend six days in Britain around the time the pope makes his Sept. 16-19 visit to England and Scotland. The couple will stay with Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, who met them during a recent visit to New York.
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