Saint John Nepomucene Neumann:Pray for us on this day of your death, you were a interesting and thoughtful man in the world of theology, remembering you today especially, happy 200th birthday!
Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R., (Czech: Jan Nepomucký Neumann, German: Johannes Nepomuk Neumann, 28 March 1811 – 5 January 1860) was a Redemptorist missionary to the United States who became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (1852–60) and the first American bishop (and thus far the only male citizen) to be canonized. While Bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States. He is the patron saint of Redemptorist habit, Episcopal vestments
Beatified October 13, 1963, Rome, Italy by Pope Paul VI Canonized June 19, 1977, Rome, Italy by Pope Paul VI Major shrine National Shrine of Saint John Neumann, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Early life Neumann was born in Prachatitz, Bohemia, Austrian Empire, which is part of modern-day Czech Republic. He attended school in České Budějovice before entering seminary there in 1831. Two years later he transferred to the University of Prague, where he studied theology, though he was also interested in astronomy and botany. His goal was to be ordained to the priesthood, and he applied for this after completing his studies in 1835.
His bishop, however, had decided that there would be no more ordinations for the time being, as Bohemia had a high number of priests. Neumann traveled to America with the hope of being ordained to the priesthood. He was ordained in June of 1836 by Bishop John Dubois at old St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. After his ordination, St. John was assigned by the bishop to work with recent German immigrants in mission churches in the Niagara Falls area, where he visited the sick, taught catechism, and trained teachers to take over when he left. From 1836 until 1840 he served as the founding pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Williamsville, New York.
In 1840 he applied to join the Redemptorist Fathers, was accepted, and entered the novitiate of the Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania--becoming their first candidate in the New World. He took his vows as a full member of the Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland in January 1842, and, after six years of difficult but fruitful work, he was appointed the Provincial Superior for the United States. Neumann was naturalized as a citizen of the United States in Baltimore on 10 February 1848. Bishop of Philadelphia: In March 1852 Neumann was consecrated in Baltimore, as Bishop of Philadelphia. He was the first bishop in the United States to organize a Catholic diocesan school system, and he increased the number of Catholic schools in his diocese from two to one hundred. His construction campaign extended to parish churches as well. He actively invited religious orders to establish new houses within the diocese and founded a congregation of Franciscan Sisters, the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Philadelphia.
He brought the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Germany to assist in religious instruction and staffing an orphanage and intervened to save the Oblate Sisters of Providence from dissolution. He established and built so many new parish churches within the diocese that one was completed almost at the rate of one every month. His facility with languages endeared him to the many new immigrant communities in the city. As well as ministering to newcomers in his native German, he also spoke Italian fluently and ministered personally to a growing congregation of Italian-speakers in his private chapel. He eventually established the first Italian national parishes in the country for them. Neumann's efforts to expand the Catholic Church throughout his diocese was not without opposition. The Know Nothings, an anti-Catholic political party, was at the height of its activities, setting fire to convents and schools.
Discouraged, Neumann wrote to Rome asking to be replaced as bishop, but he received a reply from Pope Pius IX insisting that he continue. In 1854, Neumann traveled to Rome and was present at St. Peter's Basilica on December 8, along with 53 cardinals, 139 other bishops, and thousands of priests and laity, when Blessed Pope Pius IX solemnly defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While running errands on January 5, 1860, Neumann collapsed and died on a city street, due to a stroke.
He was 48 years old. Bishop James Frederick Wood, who had been appointed his coadjutor with right of succession, then took office as Bishop of Philadelphia. Neumann's date of death, January 5, is now celebrated as his feast day in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America. Sainthood The first step toward proclamation of Neumann as a saint was his being declared ""Venerable"" by Pope Benedict XV in 1921.
He was beatified by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council on 13 October 1963, and was canonized by that same pope on 19 June 1977. His feast days are January 5 on the Roman calendar for the general Church and March 5 in the Czech Republic. Following his canonization, the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann was constructed at the Parish of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia. The remains of St. John Neumann rest under the altar of the shrine within a glass-walled reliquary. In 1980, Our Lady of the Angels College, founded by the congregation of Franciscan Sisters he had founded and located within the archdiocese, was renamed Neumann College. It was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2009
Jubilee Year: In 2011, the Redemptorists will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Neumann. The Neumann Year will run through June 23, 2012.
Canonization of John Nepomucene Neumann Homily of Pope Paul VI Sunday, 19 June 1977 Greetings to you, Brethren, and sons and daughters of the United States of America! We welcome you in the name of the Lord! The entire Catholic Church, here, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, welcomes you with festive joy. And together with you, the entire Catholic Church sings a hymn of heavenly victory to Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, who receives the honor of one who lives in the glory of Christ. In a few brief words we shall describe for the other pilgrims some details of his life, which are already known to you. We ask ourselves today: what is the meaning of this extraordinary event, the meaning of this canonization? It is the celebration of holiness. And what is holiness? It is human perfection, human love raised up to its highest level in Christ, in God. At the time of John Neumann, America represented new values and new hopes. Bishop Neumann saw these in their relationship to the ultimate, supreme possession to which humanity is destined. With Saint Paul he could testify that “all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3, 22). And with Augustine he knew that our hearts are restless, until they rest in the Lord (S. AUGUSTINI Confessiones, 1, 1). His love for people was authentic brotherly love. It was real charity: missionary and pastoral charity. It meant that he gave himself to others. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, he lay down his life for the sheep, for Christ’s flock: to provide for their needs, to lead them to salvation. And today, with the Evangelist, we solemnly proclaim : “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Io. 15, 13). John Neumann’s pastoral zeal was manifested in many ways. Through faithful and persevering service, he brought to completion the generosity of his initial act of missionary dedication. He helped children to satisfy their need for truth, their need for Christian doctrine, for the teaching of Jesus in their lives. He did this both by catechetical instruction and by promoting, with relentless energy, the Catholic school system in the United States. And we still remember the words of our late Apostolic Delegate in Washington, the beloved Cardinal Amleto Cicognani: “You Americans”, he said, “possess two great treasures: the Catholic school and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Guard them like the apple of your eye” (Cfr. Epistola 2 iunii 1963). And who can fail to admire all the loving concern that John Neumann showed for God’s people, through his priestly ministry and his pastoral visitations as a Bishop? He deeply loved the Sacramental of Reconciliation: and like a worthy son of Saint Alphonsus he transmitted the pardon and the healing power of the Redeemer into the lives of innumerable sons and daughters of the Church. He was close to the sick; he was at home with the poor; he was a friend to sinners. And today he is the honor of all immigrants, and from the viewpoint of the Beatitudes the symbol of Christian success. John Neumann bore the image of Christ. He experienced, in his innermost being, the need to proclaim by word and example the wisdom and power of God, and to preach the crucified Christ. And in the Passion of the Lord he found strength and the inspiration of his ministry: Passio Christi conforta me! The Eucharistic Sacrifice was the center of his life, and constituted for him what the Second Vatican Council would later call “the source and summit of all evangelization” (Presbiterorum Ordinis, 5). With great effectiveness, through the Forty Hours Devotion he helped his parishes become communities of faith and service. But to accomplish his task, love was necessary. And love meant giving; love meant effort; love meant sacrifice. And in his sacrifice, Bishop Neumann’s service was complete. He led his people along the paths of holiness. He was indeed an effective witness, in his generation, to God’s love for his Church and the world. There are many who have lived and are still living the divine command of generous love. For love still means giving oneself for others, because Love has come down to humanity; and from humanity love goes back to its divine source! How many men and women make this plan of God the program of their lives! Our praise goes to the clergy, religious and Catholic laity of America who, in following the Gospel, live according to this plan of sacrifice and service. Saint John Neumann is a true example for all of us in this regard. It is not enough to acquire the good things of the earth, for these can even be dangerous, if they stop or impede our love from rising to its source and reaching its goal. Let us always remember that the greatest and the first commandment is this: “You shall love the Lord your God” (Matth. 22, 36). True humanism in Christianity. True Christianity-we repeat -is the sacrifice of self for others, because of Christ, because of God. It is shown by signs; it is manifested in deeds. Christianity is sensitive to the suffering and oppression and sorrow of others, to poverty, to all human needs, the first of which is truth. Our ceremony today is indeed the celebration of holiness. At the same time, it is a prophetic anticipation-for the Church, for the United States, for the world-of a renewal in love: love for God, love for neighbor. And in this vital charity, beloved sons and daughters, let us go forward together, to build up a real civilization of love. Saint John Neumann, by the living power of your example and by the intercession of your prayers, help us today and for ever. St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860) HIS FASCINATING LIFE STORY The Bishop of Philadelphia lay crumpled in the snow a few blocks from his new cathedral on Logan Square. By the time a priest reached him with the holy oils, Bishop Neumann was dead. That was January 5, 1860. At his own request Bishop Neumann was buried in a basement crypt in Saint Peter's Church where he would be with his Redemptorist confreres. PILGRIMAGES TO BISHOP'S TOMB Almost immediately devout souls were drawn to his grave. They came from far and near. More than a few were claiming extraordinary miracles of grace. It was as though John Neumann, now dead, continued his works of mercy among his people. For decades this unsolicited devotion continued. Finally after many years and many incontrovertible miracles worked through the intercession of this holy man, his Cause was introduced in Rome. In 1921 Pope Benedict XV saw fit to have John Neumann declared "Venerable". The procession of the faithful continued and in 1963 Pope Paul VI declared him "Blessed" John Neumann. The crowds of pilgrims prompted the building of the lower church. His remains, remarkably well preserved after a century of interment, were exhumed and placed in a glass encasement beneath the altar in the lower church. Bus loads of pilgrims came from different parishes throughout the year to pray to Saint John. Finally the long expected happened in Rome on 1977. Pope Paul VI declared John Neumann a Saint in heaven. Now pilgrims came from all over the world. From his native Bohemia, from Germany and Holland they came to claim allegiance to one of their own. Pope John Paul II made it a point to visit the Shrine when he came to Philadelphia to attend the Eucharistic Congress. Yes, the City of Brotherly Love was bursting with joy. The diocesan seminarians from St. Charles, Overbrook, have made annual pilgrimages to his tomb. The various Irish Societies of Philadelphia have made formal pilgrimages to the tomb of this humble man of God who, as bishop, did so much for their immigrant forebears in the 1850's -- this "foreigner" who went to the trouble of studying enough Irish to be able to hear the confessions of those who "had no English," up in the coal regions of nineteenth century Pennsylvania. Those of Italian extraction remember Bishop Neumann as the founder of the first national parish for Italians in the United States. At a time when there was no priest to speak their language, no one to care for them, Bishop Neumann, who had studied Italian as a seminarian in Bohemia, gathered them together in his private chapel and preached to them in their mother tongue. In 1855 he Purchased a Methodist Church in South Philadelphia, dedicated it to St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, and gave them one of his seminary professors, Father John Tornatore, C.M., to be their pastor. CATHOLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM ESTABLISHED Bishop Neumann lays several claims to fame in Philadelphia and the United States. Ever a humble and self-effacing person, he would be the last one to mention it himself, but the records stand. It was he who organized the first diocesan schedule of the Forty Hours' Devotion in America. The credit is likewise his of establishing the first system of parochial schools in various parts of the country when Neumann came to Philadelphia -- but the first unified system of Catholic schools under a diocesan board. This he did in may of 1852, a fortnight before the Plenary Council at Baltimore which seconded his proposals. FOUNDER OF SISTERS OF ST. FRANCIS He may also lay claim to being founder of a religious order for women, the Third Order of St. Francis of Glen Riddle, whose Rule he drafted in 1855 after returning from Rome for the solemn promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The School Sisters of Notre Dame likewise regard Bishop Neumann as their secondary founder, their "father in America." In 1847, Father John Neumann, superior of the Redemptorist Order at the time, welcomed the first band of these teaching sisters from Munich. He found them a home in Baltimore and then provided them with teaching assignments in his Order's parish schools at Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New York, Buffalo and Philadelphia. A REDEMPTORIST Bishop Neumann, as a young priest, was the first to make his religious profession as a Redemptorist in the New World. This he did in 1842 in the Church of St. James in Baltimore. Before his elevation to the See of Philadelphia at the age of 41, he had served as rector of St. Philomena's, Pittsburgh, and St. Alphonsus, Baltimore, as well as vice-provincial of this missionary order in America. Recent research in the files of the State Department show that Bishop Neumann became a naturalized citizen of the United States at Baltimore on February 10, 1848, renouncing allegiance to the Emperor of Austria in whose realm he was born on March 28, 1811. On his 41st birthday, he was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia by Archbishop Francis Kenrick at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore, in 1852. A DIOCESAN PRIEST Before joining the Redemptorists John N. Neumann labored as a diocesan priest in Western New York. He was ordained in June of 1836 by Bishop John Dubois at old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mott Street, New York City. The following week he was pastor of the whole Niagara Frontier, some hundred square miles of swampy primeval forest. Many German immigrants had settled this sector of the diocese and were in danger of losing the Faith. It was for this reason that Father Neumann was sent there. He built churches, raised log schools where possible and even taught the three R's himself to the German and Irish children. "Among the shepherds of the flock in Philadelphia," wrote the late Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the diocese, "the figure of Venerable John Neumann is pre-eminent. It was mainly through his prodigious efforts that a Catholic school system came into being and that parochial schools began to rise across the land. His holy life, his childlike gentleness, his hard labor and his tremendous foresight is still fresh and green among you. The tree planted and watered by Bishop Neumann now gives you its fruit." James J. Galvin C.Ss.R. THE IMMIGRANT SHEPHERD It was fitting indeed that Bishop Neumann was beatified during the Second Vatican Council. In a personal letter to each bishop of the world, before the opening of the Council, the Holy Father asked each bishop to aim at achieving the heights of personal sanctity in order to assure its success. He reminded them of their first and highest mission of carrying on a constant policy of instruction and of pastoral visitation so that they can say: "I know my sheep, each and every one," and that one of the great blessings that can come to a diocese is a bishop who sanctifies, who keeps watch and who sacrifices himself. All these qualities are pre-eminent in the life and holiness of Bishop Neumann, the shepherd declared Blessed during this council.
PRAYER FOR HIS INTERCESSION O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God. Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother. May death still find us on the sure road to our Father's House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.