Oratory dedicates new evangelist icons at Newman Lecture


ROCK HILL — “Faith and the Poetic Imagination” was the theme of the 25th annual Cardinal Newman Lecture at The Oratory recently. The lecture was part of a day of spirituality that began with a call to prayer and the blessing of The Oratory’s new evangelist icons by their creator, Father Damian Higgins, a Ukrainian Catholic priest.

Representatives from The Oratory began working with Father Damian in 2004. Together they came up with artwork that expresses some of the ministries that are provided in the Pope John XXIII Center at the Rock Hill location, particularly Scripture study. The icons surround a centerpiece created by Soariya Kumac, a native of Sri Lanka and copper artist of international acclaim. The centerpiece depicts The Oratory’s logo, from which radiate fiery flames symbolizing the energy and dynamism of the congregation’s charism. The four quadrants that surround the centerpiece represent in symbolic form the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The evangelist icons celebrate St. Philip Neri’s gift of the familiar treatment of God’s Word to the Church. The artwork is a gift from the Carter and Charlotte Lofton family in memory of Mark J. Lofton.

Wendy Wright, Ph.D., delivered the Cardinal Newman Lecture following the blessing of the icons. She is a professor of theology at Creighton University and the author of eight books, and publishes and lectures extensively.

Wright quoted often from the Christian humanist tradition of St. Ignatius Loyola, Caryll Houselander, St. Philip Neri, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal in her lecture. She challenged her audience to “take up seriously our gifts, our capacities to think, to build, to dream … to explore what it means to be fully human, to be created in the image and likeness of God.”

Father John Giuliani, provost of The Oratory, celebrated a eucharistic liturgy during the day, and Carolina Strings presented a chamber concert.

The next Cardinal Newman Lecture is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2006, with Father Donald Cozzens as keynote speaker.