Above: St. John Nepomucene Neumann
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN (MARCH 28, 1811-JUNE 5, 1860)
Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia
St. John Nepomucene Neumann made a mark on the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, especially in Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Neumann was a native of Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. His father, Philip, was German; his mother, Agnes, was Czech. Our saint, one of six children, studied theology, botany, and astronomy at Budweis, Bohemia. Then he studied theology at Charles Ferdinand University, Prague. Neumann did not become a priest in Europe due to the illness of the bishop on the day set aside for the ordination and because of the glut of priests in his area.
So Neumann came to America. He arrived in the Port of New York in 1836. On June 28 of that year he became a priest. Given the option of serving in Buffalo or a rural area, our saint chose the latter, which was more difficult. He lived simply in a log cabin, walked miles from farm to farm, and used his 12 spoken languages effectively when relating to his multi-ethnic flock. Neumann also defended Roman Catholicism in debates with hostile Protestants; he relied upon the combination of logic and his mild manner to defeat his opponents verbally. In 1840, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Neumann became a Redemptorist; he took his vows at Baltimore, Maryland, the following year. For a time our saint was a missioner in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In 1844 he became the pastor of St. Philomena Church, Pittsburgh. Three years later Neumann became the Vice-Regent and Superior of the order in the United States. Then, in 1852, he became the Bishop of Philadelphia. As bishop our saint oversaw the construction of 50 churches and the beginning of the construction of the cathedral. He also opened about 100 parochial schools and increased enrollment from about 500 to about 9,000.
Neumann, the author of newspaper articles and two catechisms, died at Philadelphia on June 5, 1860, after a stroke. He was 49 years old.
Pope Benedict XV declared Neumann a Venerable in 1921. Pope Paul VI declared him a Blessed in 1963 and a saint 14 years later.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION
THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP
THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER
Father, you called St. John Nepomucene Neumann to labor
for the gospel among the people of the New World.
His ministry strengthened many others in the Christian faith:
through his prayers may faith grow strong in this land.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Samuel 16:1, 6-13
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
–Adapted from Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), pages 1062-1053 and 1423; and The Vatican II Weekday Missal for Spiritual Growth (1975), pages 1613 and 1908-1926