John Henry Newman began his religious career as a 19th-century Fellow of Oriel College and as the Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin Church in Oxford, England. At the age of 44, he converted to Roman Catholicism and founded the first English-speaking Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham, England. He was made a cardinal of the Catholic Church in 1879. His many scholarly works were a significant force that helped shape religious thought not only in his own time, but also throughout the 20th century.
Newman's reform-minded philosophy and theology was so influential that he became known as the "Invisible Father" of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). This distinguished title was given to him because his ideas energized the conversations that sent that council in the direction of reconciliation and dialogue with the modern world. His 19th-century writings also set into motion the Council's teaching on the role of the laity, conscience, and education. In short, Newman helped foster an ecumenical view of the world and remains as relevant today as ever.
Since the beginning of the 1900s, special parishes and centers have set up to serve the spiritual needs of Catholic students at universities and colleges. These centers were named after Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, and English educator and churchman from the 19th century. Newman Centers are established as part of a university community, working alongside the university staff and faculty to offer students a more complete education.