The ‘soup and substance’ of St. John Henry Newman

By Kathy-Ann Gobin

NEW FAIRFIELD – The meaning of relationships, religious observations and expressions of faith were topics discussed at St. Edward the Confessor Parish during a Lenten Soup and Substance gathering.

“I love theology and history and connecting with theology,” said Father Edward Enright, OSA, the event’s guest speaker and an Associate Professor of Religious and Theological Studies at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.

Father Enright started the discussion hosted by the “Old Enough to Know Better Ministry,” at the Brush Hill Road church by sharing a little about himself and his work.

He is currently working on a reflection of Saint John Henry Newman’s life. Father Enright, a professor for more than four decades, is one of the foremost scholars of Newman and has written a book called, “John Henry Newman: Doctor of the Church.”

Newman was on a mission to revitalize the Church of England before his controversial conversion to Catholicism in 1845 following research that made him suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established.

“Newman was ahead of his time,” Father Enright said. “He was a modern man when no one knew what a ‘modern man of the time’ was.”

“Helping people to do what they have to do to be the person they have to be, was the mission that he embodied,” he said.

And as Father Enright has lived that mission as a member of the Order of St. Augustine for more than 50 years, he has forged many friendships along the way including becoming a mentor and guide to parochial vicar Father Tim Iannacone for more than 10 years.

“Father Ed was the inspiration of why I wanted to be a priest,” Father Iannacone said. “He showed me that priests are human beings.” Father Enright vested Father Iannacone at his ordination, a moment which was captured and celebrated on photos projected on a large screen during the luncheon meeting.

Father Iannacone credits Father Enright with deepening his understanding of the human condition and helping him to always seek to foster meaningful relationships with the people he serves for Christ.

Father Enright grew up in Arlington, Mass., as the oldest of four siblings and although his mother was Protestant, he ended up attending and found his place at a newly built Catholic High School and said the Augustinian order there, helped him in his faith journey.

“It’s important to live in good community,” he said. Augustinians seek to live out a Christian vocation of love for God and neighbor in communion of life and service to the Church.

Father Enright answered questions from those gathered including understanding the different observations between Eastern Catholics, Greek Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics.

“We all started out together,” he said, adding division in the church is responsible for the establishment of different factions. “We do have the seven sacraments in common,” he said, noting there are some caveats like Eastern Catholics can be married before priesthood.

“We have the same beliefs when it comes to the level of orthodoxy,” he said about Greek Catholic Orthodox followers.

The group also discussed Pope Francis’ decree for all Catholics to embrace the Vatican II reforms and learn the way to celebrate the liturgy according to them.

Father Enright is studying the path to enlightenment and relationships. He encouraged those in attendance to, “look at the beauty of each individual, despite any doubt or difficulties, look at the beauty before you. Shine the light (of Christ) on other people when they may be having a bad day.”

Father Iannacone agreed.

“It’s all about relationships and recognizing that person is a human being, whether they are Catholic or not,” said Father Iannacone. “We are all family. A family in faith.”

Father Enright will be at St. Edward the Confessor until Easter Tuesday. He will lead a Lenten Reflection at the church on Wednesday, March 29 starting at 6 pm.