Wednesday 13 June 2018

Vaughan: His Life, Work and Mission - Fr. Robert O'Neil

Vaughan: His Life, Work and Mission
Fr. Robert O'Neil
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784691783
eISBN 9781784694531


Over the last few weeks I have read about a half dozen books from the Catholic Truth Society. With each one I read, I am finding 1 or 2 more that I want to read, and am adding to my wish list. This book is about the founder of the society, Cardinal Herbert Vaughan. And what a powerful little volume it is. The description of the book is:

"Fading sepia tone photographs of a stiff Victorian clergyman belie the sheer drive, impact and humanity of Herbert Vaughan. A holy and pious man, and great retreat giver, he was a hugely successful fundraiser and leader, - yet a man who wept for his shortcomings while saying Mass. Energetically founding a missionary order, charitable societies and organisations that still run today, including the CTS in 1868, his life was never secure with a life-long heart weakness. At heart a missionary, a seminary rector, a bishop, a journalist, a gifted and shy communicator - Vaughan has left an impressive legacy of service and love."

And the contents are:

The Shy, Gifted Communicator
The Vaughans of Courtfield, Education, Rome and Priesthood to 1861
Herbert Vaughan and the Missionary College at Mill Hill to 1872
Bishop of Salford 1872
Westminster 1892-1903
The Humanity of Vaughan

Reading this book opened up to me the life of a man of driver, determination, and dependence upon God. From the opening words I was captivated:

"True to form, our founder Herbert Vaughan renounced a considerable inheritance, a life of ease and a warm, loving family to pursue his vocation to be a priest. He had long dreamt of being a missionary to Wales. From a wealthy established Catholic family based on the Welsh borders, that had survived penal times, and the eldest of thirteen siblings, his entire life was marked by poor health. What is fascinating is that he survived at all, and greater still that he did so much.

Tall, elegant, handsome, he was by nature painfully shy, and could and did upset many by his apparent brusqueness. He was a pious and holy man, spending two hours a day in prayer, and painfully aware of his many faults. He was widely known to reconcile with enemies and to ask forgiveness of those he had offended. People knew that he spoke his mind, and with the utmost sincerity. Missionary life fascinated him from an early age - the idea of preaching the good news of the gospel. He had great devotion to St Joseph and to the Sacred Heart, and had been schooled by the Jesuits and Benedictines, and enjoyed a long association with the Carmelites. He was a man of the Victorian age, with a broad international view developed by his many travels."

As I was reading this booklet I was amazed that one man had accomplished so much. From his missionary zeal. To founding of schools. The creation of missionary societies, and The Catholic Truth Society, that failed and was started again. That same society, which published this booklet, is currently celebrating it's sesquicentennial, it's 150th anniversary.

Vaughan was a man who from a young age desired to serve God. He also felt a passion to serve Wales with priests. He had a lifelong passion for training clergy, training missionaries, and using the printing press to provide instruction, teaching, and clarify the truth. He had dreams, but he also worked hard, he worked to follow God's leadings and some of his dreams did not come to fruition until much later in his life.

This booklet is a testament to the lasting legacy of love, and service that is Vaughan's life. Of the work he started that continues today. It is wonderfully written and it has left me wanting more. To read more books by the CTS, and to read and research more about Vaughan himself. If you have ever enjoyed a book or booklet from CTS you should give this a read. If you want to read about a man who pursued God first and foremost this is a read for you. This is a great little read, but I will give a warning it will challenge you. But more than worth the read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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