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St. John Neumann (January 5)

St. John Neumann was born in Bohemia on March 20, 1811, into a devout Catholic family. He was gifted with a quick mind for study and a rare ability for languages. Desiring to become a priest, he entered his native seminary in 1831. There he heard reports of the desperate situation of the Church in the New World and began to yearn to serve God as a priest in the new American mission. He arrived in New York on May 28, 1836. Bishop James Dubois of New York welcomed him and ordained him on June 25, 1836 at the old St Patrick Cathedral. He was sent to Buffalo where a multitude of new Catholic immigrants were settling in small farming communities and towns without any priests to serve them. He spent the next four years tirelessly visiting this scattered flock, establishing churches and schools where he could. In 1840, John, realizing his own need for spiritual support, decided to enter the Redemptorists. After his novitiate in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, he continued his vigorous missionary life, this time in
Maryland and Ohio. On March 19, 1852 he was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia. In five years, fifty new churches were built under his direction. John Neumann's faith, especially his love for the Holy Eucharist and the Mother of God, profoundly influenced his diocese. He died of a stroke on January 5, 1860 in Philadelphia and is buried there in St Peter's Church. He was canonized on June 19, 1977 and became the first American bishop to be so honored.