• 05 Jan 20

Jan 5 - “St. John Neumann” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. John!

Born in Bohemia, John Neumann landed in New Your City at the age of 25, with one dollar in his pocket. He was ordained a priest in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and then assigned to a 900 square-mile parish. Before he learned to ride a horse, he used to cross this extensive area on foot, braving all types of weather and difficult conditions. He shared the poverty of his immigrant flock. "You have to love poverty," he said, "if you want to be a missionary."

Neumann joined the congregation of the Redemptorists in 1840, and was appointed their American superior five years later. During this time he worked in various northeastern cities, especially Pittsburgh. In 1852, Rome made him bishop of Philadelphia.

Considered by many to be the father of the American parochial school system, Neumann was before all else a pastor. He learned as many languages as possible so that he could minister to immigrants from all over Europe. After he had heard her confession in Gaelic, one old Irish woman left the confessional and exclaimed, "Thank heaven we finally have an Irish priest!" Even as bishop, he kept a poor life style. His priests used to complain about his shabby clothes. He died on a city sidewalk, running an errand, and the poor have prayed at his tomb ever since.