dimanche 5 janvier 2014

Saint JEAN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, évêque




Saint Jean Neumann

Évêque de Philadelphie, Pennsylvanie, U.S.A., il naquit à Prachatitz, en Bohème, le 28 mars 1811. Il était le fils de Philip Neumann et de Agnès Lebis. Il fit ses études à Budweis et entra au séminaire là-même, en 1831.

Deux ans plus tard, il alla à l'Université Charles-Ferdinand à Prague. Il y étudia la théologie.

Il attendait avec impatience son ordination pour 1835. L'évêque décida qu'il n'y aurait plus d'ordinations pour le moment. Une chose impensable aujourd'hui. En effet, la Bohème avait une surabondance de prêtres. Alors Jean écrivit aux évêques d'Europe, mais la même situation se répétait partout et personne ne voulait plus de prêtres. Certain de sa vocation à la prêtrise, Jean se retrouvait devant des portes fermées.

Il ne lâcha pas, cependant. Comme il avait appris la langue anglaise à l'usine avec ses compagnons de travail, il décida d'écrire aux évêques d'Amérique. Finalement, l'Évêque de New York accepta de l'ordonner prêtre. Afin de répondre à l'appel de Dieu, il dut se résigner à quitter pour toujours sa famille, traverser l'océan, s'en aller vers un pays nouveau et une terre austère.

A New York, Jean se retrouva parmi les 36 prêtres qui assuraient le ministère auprès de 200,000 catholiques. Sa paroisse, dans la partie ouest de l'État de New York allait du lac Ontario jusqu'à la Pennsylvanie. Son église n'avait ni clocher ni parquet. Mais cela ne le préoccupait pas; en effet, il passait la majeure partie de son temps à voyager d'un village à l'autre, escaladant les montagnes pour visiter les malades; il s'arrêtait dans des mansardes ou des tavernes où il enseignait et célébrait la messe sur des tables de cuisine.

Il entra chez les Rédemptoristes poussé par son désir de vivre en communauté. Le travail de sa paroisse l'obligeait à vivre dans l'isolement. Pour lui, les Rédemptoristes étaient une congrégation de prêtres et de frères consacrés à venir en aide aux pauvres et aux plus abandonnés.

Il fut le premier prêtre à se joindre à la Congrégation en Amérique. Il prononça ses vœux le 16 janvier 1842 à Baltimore.

Dès le début, sa sainteté évidente, son zèle et son amabilité, le firent remarquer de ses confrères religieux.

Il connaissait six langues modernes, ce qui le fit apprécier énormément de cette société américaine multiculturelle du 19e siècle.

A la suite de son apostolat à Baltimore et à Pittsburgh, en 1847, on le nomma Visiteur ou Supérieur Majeur des Rédemptoristes des États-Unis.

Le Père Frédéric de Held, supérieur de la Province de Belgique, Province à laquelle étaient rattachés les monastères rédemptoristes américains, a dit de lui: "C'est un grand homme qui réunit la piété à une personnalité forte et prudente. Ces qualités lui furent bien nécessaires pendant les deux années où il remplit cette fonction. En effet, les fondations américaines traversaient une période d'ajustement éprouvante.

Lorsque sa charge passa à son successeur, le Père Bernard Hafkenscheid, les Rédemptoristes des Etats-Unis étaient beaucoup mieux préparés à devenir une Province autonome. Ils furent érigés en Province en 1850.

Le Père Jean Neumann fut nommé évêque de Philadelphie. Sa consécration eut lieu à Baltimore, le 28 mars 1852. Son diocèse était immense et passait à travers une phase de développement considérable.

Une fois évêque, il fut le premier à mettre en place un réseau diocésain d'écoles catholiques. Le nombre de ces écoles passa, pendant son épiscopat, de deux à cent.

Il fonda les Sœurs du Tiers-Ordre de Saint-François pour enseigner dans les écoles.

Parmi les églises qu'il construisit pendant ce temps - plus de quatre-vingt - il faut mentionner la cathédrale de Saint Pierre et Saint Paul dont il commença la construction.

Saint Jean Neumann était de petite taille et de faible santé. Dans sa courte vie, cependant, il accomplit beaucoup de choses. Il trouva même le temps de s'adonner à une activité littéraire considérable en plus de ses devoirs pastoraux.

Il publia de nombreux articles dans les journaux catholiques ainsi que dans des périodiques. Il publia deux catéchismes et, en 1849, une histoire de la Bible pour les écoles.

Son activité continua jusqu'à la fin de sa vie.

Le 5 janvier 1860, à l'âge de 48 ans, il s'affaissa dans la rue, dans sa ville épiscopale, et mourut avant de pouvoir recevoir le sacrement des malades.

Il fut béatifié par le Pape Paul VI, le 13 octobre 1963, et canonisé le 19 juin 1977.


SOURCE : http://www.cssr.com/francais/saintsblessed/stneumann.shtml

Saint Jean Népomucène Neumann

Évêque de Philadelphie ( 1860)

Saint Jean Népomucène Neumann naquit en Bohème d'une mère tchèque et d'un père bavarois. Bilingue dès le berceau, il apprendra le français, l'anglais, l'italien, l'espagnol, le grec moderne, le gaélique, dans sa passion d'annoncer l'Évangile à tous les européens émigrés en Amérique. Ses études terminées, il s'arrache à sa famille et, malgré son évêque, le jeune séminariste se retrouve à New York où il est ordonné prêtre. Il entre dans la congrégation des Rédemptoristes fondée par saint Alphonse de Liguori. Curé à Baltimore, il est nommé évêque de Philadelphie en 1852. Il se dépense jusqu'à en mourir, bâtissant quatre-vingt églises, des orphelinats et une centaine d'écoles en huit ans d'épiscopat. Il tombe mort dans la rue. Il avait 48 ans. Ce tchèque, apôtre des émigrés d'Europe Centrale aux États-Unis, est le premier Américain du Nord à avoir été canonisé. 

(béatifié en 1963 par Paul VI, canonisé en 1977)

À Philadelphie en Pennsylvanie, l’an 1860, saint Jean Népomucène Neumann, évêque, de la Congrégation du Très Saint Rédempteur, qui vint en aide aux immigrants pauvres par son action, ses conseils et sa charité, et s’appliqua à promouvoir la formation chrétienne des enfants.

Martyrologe romain

Dans sa mort subite, Dieu l'a surpris, veillant à son ouvrage. Il fut par excellence le pasteur vigilant. Il veillait sur ses prêtres, les instruisant par son exemple plus encore que par sa parole. Il veillait sur les fidèles comme le bon berger qui donne chaque instant de sa vie pour son troupeau.

Homélie de ses funérailles, janvier 1860




Saint Jean-Népomucène Neumann (1811-1860)

Jean Neumann naît en Bohême dans le petit village de Prachatitz, le 28 mars 1811. Il entreprend ses études théologiques. Il voulait devenir prêtre, mais on en comptait trop dans sa Bohême natale. Il émigre donc aux États-Unis. C’est à New-York qu’il est ordonné prêtre le 25 juin 1836. Il remplit son ministère auprès des immigrants d’Europe et des pauvres, dans les régions de Buffalo et de Niagara. Il est reçu chez les Rédemptoristes en 1840. Il sera le premier Rédemptoriste à prononcer ses vœux en Amérique en 1842. Il reprend alors son travail de missionnaire.

Après avoir exercé des fonctions importantes dans la Congrégation, il est nommé évêque de Philadelphie en 1852. Malgré sa tâche épiscopale, il trouvera le temps d’écrire un catéchisme, de fonder une communauté religieuse et d’établir 80 nouvelles paroisses. Il deviendra bâtisseur d’églises et d’écoles catholiques.
Épuisé, il meurt le 5 janvier 1860. Ce Rédemptoriste évêque sera canonisé en 1977. Il est reconnu comme le grand fondateur des écoles catholiques aux États-Unis.

« J’offrirai sans cesse mes services aux autres et je me comporterai avec eux comme si c’était le Christ que je rencontrais. »

(Saint Jean-Neumann)





   Jean Népomucène Neumann*, fils d' un artisan bavarois, naquit en 1811, en Bohême - qui appartenait à l' Autriche - dans une famille germanophone. Il fit ses études à Budweis, en Bohême. Il était entré au séminaire de Prague ; mais à 24 ans il ne put être ordonné. Ses supérieurs en accord avec l' évêque de Prague lui conseillèrent de partir évangéliser le Nord des Etats-Unis. Séminariste doué, il parlait six langues, en plus du grec et du latin !

Il s' embarqua en 1836 et arriva en juin à New York, où il fut chaleureusement accueilli par Mgr Dubois qui n' avait que 36 prêtres pour l' Etat de New York et du New Jersey, dont seulement trois parlaient allemand.



Il fut ordonné peu de temps après et il s' installa dans la région des chutes du Niagara et à Williamsville, dans une zone où se trouvait un grand nombre d' émigrés germanophones. Il parcourait les villages, comme l' Apôtre des Gentils saint Paul, dans une grande pauvreté de moyens. Mais finalement au fil des années, il réussit à faire construire des églises, des écoles catholiques, et à fonder des oeuvres charitables. En 1838, il fit venir son jeune frère Wenceslas** pour l' aider à instruire et catéchiser les enfants de North Bush. Les deux frères vivaient dans une cabane de bois.


Il avait remarqué l' oeuvre insigne des Rédemptoristes, dont la Congrégation avait été fondée par saint Alphonse de Liguori un siècle auparavant, auprès des immigrés germanophones et sollicita en 1840 son admission chez eux à Pittsburgh.

En 1842, il devint Rédemptoriste à Baltimore ( première profession rédemptoriste aux Etats-Unis ). Il fut nommé à Pittsburgh en 1844, dont il fit construire l' église Sainte-Philomène. Il fut ensuite nommé Provincial des Rédemptoristes des Etats-Unis, pendant deux ans, et eut fort à faire pour créer de nouvelles paroisses germanophones. Il fut curé de la nouvelle paroisse rédemptoriste Saint-Alphonse-de-Liguori à Baltimore et y fut remarqué par l' évêque Mgr Kenrick. Il redonna vie à une Congrégation de Soeurs Noires, les Oblates de la Providence, qui scolarisaient et évangélisaient les Noirs. 

Il fut naturalisé américain en 1848 à l' âge de 37 ans, renonçant à être sujet de l' empereur François-Joseph. 

En 1852, Mgr Kenrick le consacra évêque de Philadelphie en l' église Saint-Alphonse de Baltimore. Ce fut un excellent choix spirituel. Il lui fut adjoint en 1857 Mgr Wood ( ancien banquier ), comme évêque coadjuteur, car il n' avait pas de don d' administrateur.
Mgr Neumann fit tout pour éviter le conflit avec l' ambitieux Mgr Wood. Il lui confia la ville et se chargea de la périphérie et des petites villes, souvent germanophones, de Pennsylvanie. 

Ancienne cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Philadelphie

En 1854, il fit un pélerinage à Rome - où il demeurait chez les Rédemptoristes - pour la proclamation de l' Immaculée Conception et rendit visite en Bohême à sa famille, son père ses soeurs, en particulier sa soeur Johana, supérieure d' un couvent. Il reçut un accueil triomphal dans son village natal.

Il fit démarrer les travaux de la nouvelle cathédrale Saints-Pierre-et-Paul de Philadelphie et  s' occupa d' oeuvres pour la jeunesse. Ainsi, il fut le permier évêque américain à organiser un système d' éducation catholique diocésain. D' une seule école catholique en 1852, il en existera 200 à la fin de sa vie, huit ans après ! Il en fera personnellement construire plus de 90...
Il fit venir les Soeurs de Notre-Dame, de Munich, pour ouvrir des orphelinats et d' autres Soeurs d' Europe. Il introduisit dans le diocèse les Bénédictins et les Franciscains Conventuels.
Il fut à l' origine de la fondation des Soeurs du Tiers Ordre de Saint François de Glen Riddle, pour le soin des malades et l' éducation. La première Supérieure fut Marie-Anne Bachmann.

Il créa la première paroisse italienne (il parlait italien ) et apprit le gaëlique pour confesser les immigrants irlandais.

En plus de nombreux articles, il écrivit un célèbre catéchisme qui eut plus de vingt éditions aux Etats-Unis. C' était un évêque à la doctrine sûre, comme notre époque n' en connaît hélas qu' insuffisamment. C' est pour cela qu' il fut particulièrement critiqué, notamment par des groupes politiques ( les know nothings ) qui voulaient faire des Catholiques des citoyens de seconde zone; et qui pour se faire connaître brûlèrent des couvents et des écoles catholiques.

Il mourut dans la fleur de sa maturité, le 5 janvier 1860, à Philadelphie, alors qu' il marchait dans la rue.

Il fut déclaré vénérable en 1921par Benoît XV, et canonisé en 1977 par Paul VI. Ce fut le premier citoyen américain à être canonisé. 

Le corps de saint Jean Népomucène Neumann repose à la crypte de l' église Saint-Pierre Apôtre de Philadelphie, tenue par les Rédemptoristes.

* Johannes Nepomuk Neumann, en allemand.

** Il deviendra Frère Rédemptoriste en 1840.


SOURCE : http://ut-pupillam-oculi.over-blog.com/article-15328055.html

CANONIZATION OF JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN

HOMILY OF 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.

Sia gloria al Signore che concede a noi la gioia di potere dichiarare Santo il Vescovo di Filadelfia, negli Stati Uniti d’America, Giovanni Nepomuceno Neumann, già da noi insignito del titolo di Beato il 13 ottobre 1963. Sia onore alla Chiesa Cattolica Statunitense che inserisce nell’albo dei Santi il suo primo campione! Richiamiamo qualche dato biografico. Giovanni Nepomuceno Neumann era un immigrato europeo oriundo della Boemia, nato a Prachatitz, il 28 marzo 1811, educato nel Seminario di Budéjovice, che apparteneva allora all’Impero Austro-Ungarico, e poi a Praga, dove completò gli studi teologici. Essendogli stata differita l’ordinazione per l’eccessivo numero di alunni avviati al Sacerdozio, il giovane Neumann si recò a Strasburgo associandosi ad un progetto di missioni per l’America, vagò a Parigi, poi a Le Havre, donde partì, povero e solo per New York. Qui il Vescovo di allora, Monsignor Dubois, lo ordinò Sacerdote, il 25 giugno del 1836. Qui, nella regione delle cascate del Niagara, a Williamsville, poi a North Bush, rimase quattro anni, tutto dedicato al ministero sacerdotale per i boscaioli. Il desiderio di perfezione e di vita comunitaria lo portò ad entrare tra i Redentoristi d’origine italiana, sempre dedicando di preferenza il suo ministero agli emigranti di lingua tedesca, dapprima a Baltimora, ove emise i voti religiosi, poi a Pittsburgh, ove fu chiamato a reggere la Casa, che i Redentoristi vi avevano aperto. Per tre anni Pittsburgh fu la sua residenza, con impegni molteplici. Tornato a Baltimora, vi esercitò il ministero parrocchiale nella chiesa di Sant’Alfonso, quale primo parroco redentorista di America, sempre primo al lavoro e al sacrificio, sempre ultimo al riposo, sempre modello di regolare osservanza religiosa.

Qui dovette accettare, nel 1852, la nomina alla sede vescovile di Filadelfia. Le nuove responsabilità raddoppiarono il suo zelo pastorale. Superando difficoltà d’ogni genere riuscì a fondare circa cento scuole cattoliche, instancabile nelle visite pastorali, a contatto col popolo povero e laborioso. Fondò a Filadelfia la prima Parrocchia Italiana, dedicata alla Santa Fiorentina Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, ed avviò la costruzione della monumentale Chiesa Cattedrale. Fu in Italia, nel 1854 per la proclamazione del dogma dell’Immacolata, e fece visita al suo Paese d’origine. Scrisse varie opere, tra cui un celebre Catechismo, molte volte ripubblicato. Mori, stroncato da un improvviso malore the lo colse per strada il 5 gennaio 1860; non aveva ancora 49 anni. E sepolto nella Chiesa di S. Pietro a Filadelfia. Ed ora egli vive nella comunione dei Santi, nella gloria di Cristo.

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 repeatis 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.

Einen besonders herzlichen Willkommensgruß richten Wir bei dieser denkwürdigen Feier such an die anwesenden Gläubigen aus dem Geburtsland des neuen Heiligen Johannes Nepomuk Neumann.
Sein Wahlspruch »Passio Christi conforta me« - »Leiden Christi stärke mich« - offenbart uns das Geheimnis seines Lebens und die unversiegbare Kraftquelle seines so fruchtbaren und heiligmäßigen Wirkens.

Möge der heilige Missionar und Bischof Johannes Nepomuk Neumann gerade such Ihnen, seinen Landsleuten, in Prüfung und Not fortan mächtiger Fürsprecher und sicherer Führer zur ewigen Heimat sein

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John Nepomucene Neumann B (RM)

Born in Prachititz, Bohemia (now Czech Republic), March 28, 1811; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, on January 5, 1860; beatified 1963; canonized in 1977 by Pope Paul IV, the first American male saint. John was the third of six children of a German father, Philip, and Czech mother, Agnes. His parents owned a small stocking factory. John was named after a 14th-century Bohemian martyr, John Nepomucene.



As a young boy he showed great intellect as well as a religious vocation. He was educated in Budweis (original home of that now famous American beer/swill) and began at the diocesan seminary there in 1831. John was especially interested in botany and astronomy, in addition to theology and Scripture. Two years later he continued his study of theology at the Charles Ferdinand University in Prague. Because of the overabundance of clergy, the Austrian government delayed his ordination, so he decided to go to America as a missionary.

He arrived in Manhattan (New York) in June 1836, and was warmly welcomed by Bishop John DuBois of New York, even though he was unannounced. On June 28, 1836, John was ordained by Bishop James, who sent him to engage in pastoral work among German-speaking Catholics, who were clearing forests in the district of Niagara (upstate New York).

Four years of constant and isolated labor left him with a knowledge of his own need for support and an appreciation of the value of community activity in missionary work. Therefore, he entered the novitiate of the newly-established branch of the Redemptorists at Saint Philomena's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1840. When he made his vows in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1841, he became the first Redemptorist to take his vows in the United States.

He continued his missionary activities as a mission preacher in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He became rector of Saint Philomena's in 1844. In 1847, John was named vice regent and superior of the American Redemptorists, while he was a parish priest in Baltimore. Most of his parish work involved the establishment of parochial schools. Because of his outstanding pastoral work, John was appointed the fourth bishop of Philadelphia in 1852 by Pope Pius IX--a diocese that had not accepted him when he first came to America.

During his episcopate he followed the full spirit of the Redemptorist founder, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, by making especially his own the care of the materially and spiritually impoverished. Much of his time was spent in visiting the remote and hitherto neglected areas of his diocese. Diminutive in stature and lacking in 'charisma,' John Neumann devoted time to encouraging others, especially nuns and other laypeople, to lives of hidden sanctity.

He reorganized the diocese, inaugurating a widespread program of new parish building (100 additional churches) and expanding the parochial school system with 80 new schools. The population of his schools increased 20-fold after he attracted a number of teaching orders to staff them. He founded the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who observe the rule of the 'active' Franciscan Third Order, for religious teaching and to staff his orphanage. He also introduced the devotion of Forty Hours and began work on a cathedral.

He made his ad limina visits to Rome and was there in 1854 at the formal declaration of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (American bishops in council at Baltimore had already chosen Mary under this title as patroness of the United States).

He wrote much during this time--including articles for newspapers-- and produced two catechisms that were very popular in the United States in the 19th century. The catechisms were endorsed by the American bishops at their first Plenary Council in 1852. He continued to compose his most important works in German, although he was fluent in seven other languages.

At the time of his sudden death in 1860 on Vine Street in Philadelphia, he was worn out by his labors. Already he was renowned for his holiness, charity, pastoral work, and preaching. Popular devotion preceded the official investigation and approval of his cultus. After over 100 years, with the continued support of both his diocese and the Redemptorists, he was canonized (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Walsh, White).

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann

Also known as
  • Giovanni Nepomuceno Neumann
  • Jan Nepomucký Neumann
Profile

Son of Philip, who was German and owned a stocking factory, and Agnes Neumann who was Czech. John was a small and quiet boy with four sisters and a brother, and was named after Saint John Nepomucene. An excellent student, John early felt drawn to religious life. Seminarian at Budweis, Bohemia in 1813, he studied astronomy and botany in addition to theological topics. Studied theology at Charles Ferdinand University at Prague in 1833.

When time came for John’s ordination, his bishop was sick; the ordination was never re-scheduled as Bohemia had an over-abundance of priests. John decided to go to America to ask for ordination, and to work with emigres. He walked most of the way to France, then took ship for America.

John arrived unannounced in Manhattan in 1836. Bishop John Dubois was happy to see him as there were 36 priests for the 200,000 Catholics in New York and New Jersey. John was ordained on 28 June 1836, and sent to Buffalo. There the parish priest, Father Pax, gave him the choice of the city of Buffalo or of the rural area; John chose the more difficult country area. He stayed in a small town with an unfinished church, and when it was completed, he moved to a town with a log church. There he built himself a small log cabin, rarely lit a fire, slept little, often lived on bread and water, and walked miles to visit farm after remote farm. John’s parishioners were from many lands and tongues, but John knew twelve languages, and worked with them all.

He joined the Redemptorists at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1840, taking his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841, the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States. Home missioner in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Rector of Saint Philomena church in Pittsburgh in 1844. Vice-regent and superior of the Redemptorists in America in 1847. Bishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1852.

Bishop John built fifty churches and began building a cathedral. He opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students in his diocese grew from 500 to 9,000. He wrote newspaper articles, two catechisms, and many works in German. First American man and first American bishop to be canonized.

Born

St. John Nepomucene Neumann 


(1811-1860)

A Fascinating Life


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.


Saint John Neumann


As a boy, John Neumann lived in Bohemia, which is now part of Czech Republic. He studied hard, for he wanted to be a missionary priest in America. By the time he was twenty-four, he had learned six languages and had completed his studies for the priesthood. He was not ordained, however, because his bishop thought there were enough priests in his country. So John Neumann decided to leave for America, hoping to be ordained there. He said goodbye to his parents and brother and sailed for the United States. When he arrived, he had one suit of clothes and one dollar in his pocket. Three weeks later, the bishop of New York ordained him.

Father John's first work was with the German-speaking people in mission parishes near Buffalo, New York. He was not considered very handsome, and some people disliked him and his ways. Priests at that time traveled on horseback and went long distances to care for people in neighboring towns and villages. People laughed at the clumsy way Father John rode. Because he was short, his feet did not reach the stirrups. Children made fun of him. John remained silent, however, and continued going about teaching religion, visiting the sick, and training teachers.

Father John felt the need for community life, so he entered the Redemptorist Order. He was the first Redemptorist to make vows in the United States. He became the superior of the American branch of the order. When Father John was forty-one years old, he became the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. Still, some people did not welcome him. They did not care for his accent and his plain style. Besides these people, John had to deal with an anti-Catholic group that was burning convents and schools. Because John felt he wasn't capable of doing his job, he asked for a smaller diocese, but he was told to stay.

John started Catholic schools in his diocese, for he believed it was very important for children to be educated and taught the ways of Jesus. In eight years Philadelphia's two Catholic schools grew to one hundred schools. John brought many teaching orders to his diocese. He published two catechisms and many articles.

Bishop John Neumann died of a heart attack while he was walking down the street.

Throughout his life, John Neumann went about his work quietly and humbly. No special honors were given him. He was even unpopular. Only after his death did people begin to talk about their humble, good bishop who worked so hard for God.