"As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also."
(1811 - 1860; Feast Day: January 5th)
This American saint was born in Prachatice, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic), in 1811. He was looking forward to being ordained in 1835 when the bishop decided there would be no more ordinations. And it was the same all over Europe. But Neumann didn't give up. With the English he had learnt, he wrote to bishops in America. Finally, the bishop in New York agreed to ordain him. Neumann's parish was in western New York, stretching from Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania. He and 36 other priests administered to the spiritual needs of 200,000 parishioners. With his interest in learning languages, Neumann also learned Spanish, French, Italian, and Dutch so he could hear confessions in at least six languages. (1) In 1840, he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Two years later, he became the first Redemptorist priest to make his vows in America. (2) Neumann was appointed bishop of Philadelphia in 1852.
Neumann had a strong effect on the religious life of the United States by founding Catholic schools and promoting devotion to the Eucharist. He founded a new religious institute — the Third Order of Saint Francis of Glen Riddle. In just seven years, he built 89 churches, as well as several hospitals and orphanages. As a bishop, Neumann was untiring in visiting his vast diocese.
On January 5, 1860, at the age of 49, he died suddenly of a heart attack on a Philadelphia street. Neumann was beatified during the Second Vatican Council on October 13, 1963, and was canonized on June 19, 1977. St. John Neumann is invoked as a patron of sick children and of immigrants. (3)
Neumann took seriously our Lord’s words, “Go and teach all nations.” From Christ he received his instructions and the power to carry them out. For Christ does not give a mission without supplying the means to accomplish it. The Father’s gift in Christ to John Neumann was his exceptional organizing ability, which he used to spread the Good News. (4) The motto that Neumann selected when he was ordained Bishop was: "Passion of Christ, strengthen me". (1)
Reference: (1) St. John Neumann, Catholic On-line; <http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=70>.
(2) St. John Neumann, The Catholic Gene; <https://catholicgene.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/st-john-neumann/>
(3) St. John Neumann, The Redemptorist of Baltimore Province; <http://www.redemptorists.net/saints-neumann.cfm>
(4) St. John Neumann, American Catholic.org; <http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1251>
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