Newman the tutor

Newman became a tutor of Oriel College in 1822 and, like most other tutors, took Anglican Orders. When he saw that his calling might be for college rather than parish work he gave up the curacy of St Clement’s parish, justifying his decision on the grounds that the tutorship was a spiritual office and a way of fulfilling his Anglican ordination vows.

In attempting to remedy the Neglect in Newman’s Oxford he undertook to combine in his own person the teaching offices of public tutor and private.

Along with other Oriel Fellows, John Keble, Robert Wilberforce and Hurrell Froude, Newman came to the conclusion that the search for religious truth could not be separated from the pursuit of goodness, that intellectual training in theology could not be dissociated from religious and moral formation. This can be seen from the careful records Newman kept of his pupils, both public and private, which included occasional allusions to their spiritual progress.

Scattered throughout Newman’s ‘Memorandum Book about College Pupils’ are references to religious matters: in the entry for Osborn he writes ‘I walked with him etc. spoke to him about Sacrament’; for Mozley, ‘hopeful in religion’; for Money, ‘Well behaved’; for Marriot, ‘good religious principles’; and for Stevens, ‘quite ignorant of religion’ one term, and the next, ‘seems well disposed – spoke to him about Sacrament – he had been reading Bp Wilson yesterday on it’.

Rather than a lecturer on books Newman insisted that he was a teacher of men. He considered that ‘a Tutor was not a mere academical Policeman, or Constable, but a moral and religious guardian of the youths committed to him’. Writing of himself in the third person, Newman records that he ‘set before himself in the Tutorial work the aim of gaining souls to God’ and that when he became vicar of St Mary’s in 1828, the ‘hold he had acquired over them led to their following him on to sacred ground, and receiving direct religious instruction from his sermons’. (Memoir, 13 June 1874)

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