Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint of the Week: St. John Neumann
Our final Saint of the Week in this summer series of Pastor Columns, in celebration of the diocesan Year of the Eucharist, is the first (and so far only) bishop of the United States to be canonized, Saint John Neumann (pronounced “NOY-man”).
Saint John was born 1811 in the Kingdom of Bohemia (then, part of the Kingdom of Austria; now, the Czech Repub- lic). He attended a school that was operated by the Piarist Fathers before entering the seminary there in 1831. Two years later, he transferred to the Charles University in Prague, where he studied theology, though he was also interested in astronomy and botany. By the time he was twenty-four, he had learned six languages.
His goal was to be ordained to the priesthood, and he applied for this after completing his studies in 1835. However, his bishop decided that there would be no more ordinations at that time; Bohemia had numerous priests and was experiencing difficulty finding positions for all of them. (Those days are long gone!) Thus, in 1836, Saint John emigrated to the United States, hoping that an American bishop would receive and ordain him. He arrived in New York with only a suit of clothes and one dollar in his pocket. Three weeks later, he was ordained by Bishop John Dubois in what is now the Old St. Patrick Cathedral in New York City. (The Diocese of New York encompassed all of New York state and New Jersey at that time.) After ordination, he was assigned as pastor to the upper part of New York state around Niagara Falls.
Because of the difficult work and the isolation of his parish territory, he long for community, and in 1840, he joined the Redemptorists. He was assigned to Ohio and later went to Baltimore, where he was officially became an American citizen in 1848. In time, he became the Provincial Superior of the Redemptorists in the United States, which soon caught the attention of Rome, and in 1852, he was appointed the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. As bishop of Philadelphia, he founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States.
On December 8, 1854, he was present in St. Peter Basilica in the Vatican (along with fifty-three cardinals, one hundred thirty-nine brother bishops, and thousands of priests and laity) when Pope Blessed Pius IX solemnly proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint John died suddenly on January 5, 1860, while out and about on errands. He was only forty-eight years old.
The primary aim of his missionary work in upper New York state was to catechize the isolated Catholics living there and, above all, to bring them the Eucharist. His love for the Eucharist was evident all throughout his priesthood, and today, he is entombed in the altar of the national shrine in Philadelphia named in his honor, which is in the crypt church what had been his cathedral church in Philadelphia: St. Peter the Apostle.
Saint John Neumann...pray for us.
~ Fr. Lewis
on Sunday, September 6 at 8:30AM