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Peter Conley


I am the Assistant Catholic Chaplain at Warwick University and Assistant Priest at St Joseph the Worker Church in Canley, Coventry. I taught at Oscott College Seminary (affiliated to KUL, Leuven) for almost twenty years, and obtained my FHEA while Chaplain at Aston University where l underwent a lecturing qualification. I went to KUL for post-graduate studies STL (1990-1992).


I study the letters and diaries of John Henry Newman, the Victorian Anglican clergyman who, after his conversion in 1845, became a Catholic priest. He was canonized in 2019. I write creatively about Newman’s humanity, using the hermeneutic for interpreting a saint’s life he recommends in his Fragment of the life of Saint Philip (1853). This methodology was, he said, so that alongside a saint’s heroic deeds, they can be appreciated, more fully, as “living and breathing“ people with “peculiarities of habit, feeling and opinion”-rather than “bloodless ideality.” Newman humorously explains: “To find a saint sitting down to cards, or reading a heathen author, or listening to music, or taking snuff, is often a relief and encouragement to the reader, as convincing him that Grace does not supersede nature”. These, “lights and shades” he says, “while not directly and immediately spiritual” are necessary for “understanding what a Saint is.”

Newman’s vast correspondence (over 20,000 letters) and diaries are full of such personal details which shed light on his distinctive character and pastoral attributes. These aspects reveal how he could relate to people, from all walks of life, so effectively. His humanity is seldom explored by scholars and I begin to address this lacunae in my book Newman a Human Harp of Many Chords (Alive Publishing (2019).

I also research Newman’s teaching about the nature of his own grief and that of others; and am affiliated to the Comparative Religions and Literatures group in English.


“Eastern Promise: Newman’s Patristic Thought”, The Newman (Issue 116), May 2023: pp.17-22.

A series of Monthly articles for The Portal Magazine (a publication of the Ordinairiate who have St John Henry Newman as patron) March 2022- to present.

“The ‘Charm of Reality’: Newman’s Letters and Life-Writing”, The Newman (Issue 113), November 2021: pp.7-12.

“Newman’s Pandemic Ministry Balm for the Bereaved”, The Newman Review, ejournal of the National Institute of Newman Studies, 5th May 2021: pp.1-13.

“Newman: A Saint for All Seasons”, The Newman (Issue 112), May 2021: pp. 17-22.

Newman: A Human Harp of Many Chords (Alive Publishing, 2019).

“Newman, Barberi and Billiards”, Bible Alive, September 2019: pp.12-17.

“St John Henry Newman: ‘Our Heavenly Friends’", Bible Alive, October 2019: pp.6-10.

“Exploring Blessed John Henry Newman’s Bereavement Letters”, Newman Studies Journal, Vol 13 (2) Fall 2016: pp.69-81.

“Exploring Blessed John Henry Newman’s Bereavement Letters”, Newman Studies Journal, Vol 12 (2) Fall 2015: pp.76-85.


“Detecting Newman’s Humanity: Discovering fresh clues to his Pastoral Effectiveness”, St John Henry Newman Association, Catholic University of America, Washington, August 2023.

“The Lights and Shades of a Saint: Newman and Ignatian Contemplation”, (with Scott Goins, McNesse University), St John Henry Newman Association, Holy Cross College, Indiana, August 2022.

“Newman’s Barometer and the Synod”, CMS Conference, Nottingham, September 2023.


Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain (CTA)

European Society for Catholic Theology (ESCT)

St John Henry Newman Association (SJHNA)


STB Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

STL Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

MPhil Newman/Leicester University

PGPCertTL (Aston University)