History: The school and its namesake
A Brief History of Cardinal Newman High School
Lux et Veritas - "Light and Truth"
Cardinal Newman High School, a central Catholic school serving parishes in Palm Beach County, was originally a branch of St. Ann's Catholic School of St. Ann's Parish, the mother church of the Palm Beaches. Because of rapid population growth, the late Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll announced construction of a new high school in the isolated area known then as the "Westward Expansion."

In September 1961 a core faculty of Adrian Dominicans and lay men and women transferred from St. Ann's to the new one-building Cardinal Newman High School. A second classroom building was added within five years, and Archbishop Carroll dedicated a new cafeteria and gymnasium in 1973. The John P. Raich Athletic Building was added in 1985, and the Crusaders Stadium was completed in 1993. In the fall of 1997, a new classroom wing opened in the former retreat center. Both the North and South buildings underwent extensive renovations during 1998 and 1999, and the school gymnasium was equipped with new bleachers and a new floor in 2000. In 2001, new science labs and a music program were introduced. During the 2002-2003 school year, security enhancements were added to the school, including fencing and security cameras. Athletic facilities were renovated extensively beginning in 2003, including the addition of lacrosse and softball playing fields. In 2005, Cardinal Newman High School became the first Catholic high school in the state of Florida (and one of only a dozen nationwide) to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program.  Rev. David W. Carr, school president since 1995, announced in 2005 plans for a new media center building and chapel. Also lodged in this new facility will be a band room and guidance center;  construction is slated for the 2007-2008 school year.  The summer of 2006 saw the completion of a state-of-the-art track and field facility, as well as renovations of the gymnasium.  The 2007 school year began with the completion of phase one of the school's newest building project -- the completion of a new entrance to the school.

A Biography of John Henry Cardinal Newman
"A Pariah First, Then Prophet, and Today Our Patron"

(N.B. This essay was written by Msgr. James Gaffey for the Cardinal Newman High School of Santa Rosa, California. The icon of John Henry Cardinal Newman is the work of Franciscan Brother Robert Lentz, ofm.  Please see the bottom of this page for the link to Brother Robert's web page.)

John Henry Newman's life spanned the 19th century, the century that witnessed the defeat of Napoleon, the opening of Japan to the West, the abolition of slavery on both sides of the Atlantic, the captivity of the Pope in Rome, the fragmentation of Africa into European colonies, and the invention of wireless oceanic communication. Newman's life began as a youth in a religiously tolerant household. At the age of 15 - the very age that many here are currently observing and that others have recently completed - Newman underwent what he called a "conversion" to Christianity. On the eve of his entry into the University of Oxford this adolescence experience transformed his life forever and in time led to his ordination as an Anglican priest. He soon helped to lead a movement dedicated to the renewal of religious spirit in England, earning meanwhile in a small university chapel the recognition of being the most eloquent preacher of his generation and at his height - in the words of Prime Minister William Gladstone - the reputation of being the most powerful single influence in six centuries within the campus of any European university.

There followed two surprises in his life's journey. At exactly midlife, he first underwent a crisis of faith, abandoning the church of his youth, and through an exercise of pure historical reasoning he embraced Roman Catholicism. It was, he said, Oxford not Rome, that had made him a Catholic. His study of early Catholic thinkers at this university led him to the decision that, in order to be in communion with his ancient heroes, Athanasius and Ambrose, Chrysostom and Augustine, he had to be in communion not with the Archbishop of Canterbury but with the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ, the successor of Peter. His friends were shocked that this erudite Anglican divine entered a church that was still undergoing persecution in England, despised by the educated classes, and burdened with the moldering spirit of the 300-year-old Council of Trent. This astonishing decision led to his ordination as a Catholic priest. For the rest of his life his writings filtered the teaching of his new Church through the combined eyes of convert, historian and literary artist. Nevertheless, he was condemned to the status of outsider, his decision evoking resentment from his former friends in the Anglican faith and arousing suspicions in many quarters among Catholics, notably the conservative wing. To Protestants he had been the crypto-Papist wearing Anglican morning dress; to Catholics he was the crypto-heretic hidden in a Roman soutane.

The second surprise occurred nearly a quarter century later when he was made a member of the College of Cardinals. The Catholic clerical establishment in England under Cardinal Manning had opposed this astonishing honor, but Rome held fast, giving Newman this unmistakable recognition of his loyalty and orthodoxy. The red had, as he hopefully expressed it, put to rest "all the stories which have gone about of my being a half Catholic, a liberal Catholic, not to be trusted." Nevertheless, he remained to a degree the outsider, the princely pariah of the church neither governing a primatial see nor attached to the Roman Curia. When he died eleven years later, Catholics and non-Catholics mourned. A life-long friend from his Anglican days at Oxford, Richard W. Church, the dean of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, wrote: "Cardinal Newman is dead, and we lose him ... one of the very greatest masters of English style ... a man of singular purity and beauty of character ... an eminent example of personal sanctity ... He will be mourned by many in the Roman Church, but their sorrow will be less than ours [in the Anglican Church], because they have not the same paramount reason to be grateful to him."

It was this man who is patron of this high school. The decision to name this collection of buildings and grounds "Cardinal Newman High School" forty years ago rested upon two reasons. The first was that in his time Newman was a noted authority of education. His lectures on this subject were collected in a volume entitled The Idea of a University (1852). His approach was one of supreme balance. A university - and those schools who prepare students for higher education - must be neither a monastery with clerical domination; nor can it be allowed to be entirely secular, forbidding all religious study and investigation. With his genius Newman sought this fragile balance - a "Via Media," to use one of his favorite phrases - that respected human and spiritual needs. While religious studies was given an honored place in the curriculum, the school must consciously try to produce not a Christian specifically, but a gentleman, "one who never inflicts pain," one whose whole approach to life softly integrates faith and understanding into a seamless person. A school succeeded, he argued, if it had produced "a gentleman ... [with] a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, connatural qualities of a large knowledge ..." To produce such a combination of refinement and strength, Newman opposed extreme control of what was allowed to be read or studied or discussed in the study halls. "For why do we educate," he asked, "except to prepare for the world?" "The school is therefore not a convent, not a seminary; it is a place to fit men of the world for the world...[with] its newspapers, its reviews, its magazines, its novels, its controversial pamphlets." Without trust and freedom, without access to culture with all its dangers and delusions, the school will fail to introduce its students to the world itself as their final and limitless classroom.

In the course of defining his concept of education, Newman also offered an enlightened view of the interaction between teacher and student. "I shall begin," he wrote, "by laying down as a guiding principle, what I believe to be the truth, that the young for the most part cannot be driven, but, on the other hand, are open to persuasion and the influence of kindness and personal attachment; and that, in consequence, they are to be kept straight by indirect contrivances rather than by authoritative enactments and naked prohibitions." No approach to school discipline could have been more humane and civilized than this "guiding principle" written some 140 years ago. Nevertheless, these principles kept him on the fringes of educational thinking in the Church.

There were two reasons why Newman was selected as the patron of this school. His progressive philosophy of education was the first. The second reason lies in the context in which the school was opened. In the 1960s, as the grounds adjacent to the venerable Ursuline High School were being leveled for a new high school for boys, the city of Rome was hosting perhaps the greatest religious event of the 20th century, the Second Vatican Council. Responding to the call of the Pope John XXIII, bishops from around the world gathered in this historic city to bring the Church into the modern world. It was to be a "pastoral" council, not a doctrinal one. No infallible decrees of Catholic teaching came forth. Instead, the Council fathers focused on developing an effective dialogue between a church dating back to the time of Caesar and the world that was engulfed in a Cold War, the poison of poverty in global slums, the scandalous division among the world's religions, public worship in languages long dead, and the rising attrition of Christian belief and practice.

As the Council addressed these issues, the perception of John Henry Newman took on a new clarity. It was learned that he had actually predicted this Council. After the First Vatican Council, which had ended so abruptly without completing its business, Newman wrote, "there will be another Council" to balance and to modify this one. "Let us be patient," he added, "let us have faith, that a new Pope, and a reassembled council may trim the boat." He would even describe the man who would convoke Second Vatican Council. This Pope would be "a man of 80, of humble origin..." History, according to Newman, has shown that it was the old Popes who "have never been slow to venture out upon a new line, when it was necessary." Who of us can hardly help but think that these words anticipated Pope John XXIII, the pontiff who came from a family of sharecroppers, who was elected at the age of nearly 77 years, but who, against all expectations, called the Second Vatican Council. Conversely, according to Newman, history has taught that younger Popes were not leaders of reform and ended their decades of living in the papal palace in "a climax of tyranny."

Other themes confirming his wisdom tied Newman to this council. His continuing friendships among Anglicans suggested that he was a precursor of today's ecumenical movement. His simple life style in and near the provincial city of Birmingham, England - his first residence there had been a gin distillery - also kept him within arm's reach of the impoverished working class. When he became a Catholic, he joined a church that was in effect the Church of the Counter-Reformation. Within this narrow environment Newman advocated many of the principles that would lead the Church into a new era through the Second Vatican Council:
  • Such as a vital role for the laity, Newman writing that in the age of great doctors and saints, who were also bishops, like his heroes, Athanasius and Ambrose, Chrysostom and Augustine, "the divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate;"

  • Such as the allowance of a degree of unfettered inquiry to theologians, Newman writing: "...if he [the theologian] knew an authority, which was supreme and final, was watching every word he said, and made signs of assent or dissent to each sentence, as he uttered. Then indeed he would be fighting, as the Persian soldiers, under the lash, and the freedom of his intellect might truly be said to be beaten out of him;"

  • Such as the need for international diversity at the center of the Church, Newman writing during a nearly endless succession of Italian popes: "...the multitude of nations which are within the fold of the Church will be found to have acted for its protection, against any the various authorities at Rome, with whom lies the practical decision of controverted questions...Catholicity is not only one of the notes of the Church, of its securities;"

  • Such as the sovereignty of conscience, even a mistaken conscience, above authority, even infallible authority, Newman writing: "Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after dinner toasts...I shall drink - to the Pope, if you please - still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards."

  • Such as the fluid and occasionally contradictory and scandalous nature of the Church, Newman writing: " ... whatever is great - this included God, the living world, and the human spirit - refuses to be reduced to human rule, and to be made consistent in its many aspects with itself ... We need not feel surprise then, if Holy Church too ... is an instance of the same law, presenting to us an admirable consistency and unity ... but crossed and discredited now and then by apparent anomalies which need, and which claim, at our hands, an exercise of faith."
These were the two reasons why Bishop Leo T. Maher selected John Henry Cardinal Newman as patron of his new high school - Newman's advanced views on educating the young and preparing them for the world, and his anticipation of the renewal of Catholicism that the Second Vatican Council would mandate. When I first heard of this decision, I was a first shocked. No one was aware of a diocesan high school named after Newman - although there was one founded three years earlier in West Palm Beach, Florida. In some circles he was still suspect because of his conversion and educational philosophy; and the Second Vatican Council had not yet vindicated him fully. It was a custom for a bishop to name a high school after a saint - perhaps the bishops' own namesake, Saint Leo the Great, the founder of the papacy as we know it. We can see it -"Saint Leo the Great High School," home of the ferocious and carnivorous Lions. Or, there are several high schools in the Bay Area named after bishops, such as Riordan in San Francisco, Mitty in San Mateo, and O'Dowd in Oakland. Perhaps Bishop Maher would follow the lead of our state capital when Bishop Manogue High School was named after the first bishop of Sacramento. This would give us "Bishop Maher High," the future stronghold of dedicated scholars and terrifying athletes named in honor of the first bishop of Santa Rosa.

No, Bishop Maher put tradition and immortality and vanity aside. He decided in favor of the greatest writer of English prose of the 19th century, the man who fought for his faith and values in the most rarefied and brutal arenas of contention and used the most lethal weapons of his time - truth and clarity of expression, the teacher who left a legacy of original educational idea that respected lay leadership and the dignity of the student, and the most eloquent churchman of his time who entered an antiquated Church and contributed to its rebirth seventy years after his death.

Since then, more than a generation of graduates has crossed the threshold into adulthood as Newman's "gentlemen," and today their sons emulate his rugged independence on the gridiron, diamond, and gymnasiums. The early course of this high school paralleled many avenues of Newman's own life - the hope to win acceptance in an unwelcoming environment, the experience of being considered the intruder when this small denominational school sought admission into an athletic league comprising a tenacious good-old-boys club, the gathering of dedicated and courageous supporters, the fidelity to a solid vision that somehow transcended the cycle of rejection, toleration, and the ultimate acceptance by all, friend and foe, collaborator and competitor.

After 40 years, we salute John Henry Cardinal Newman - pariah and prophet, and we salute Bishop Leo T. Maher for such an inspired choice of making this extraordinary man our patron.
Link to see artwork of Brother Robert Lentz, ofm.