In just 48 years, St. John Neumann had an immeasurable impact on the Catholic faithful in the United States. Born in Bohemia (the now Czech Republic) on 28 March 1811, Neumann was drawn to missionary life. He had a strong desire to bring people to Christ. Neumann took seriously Christ’s commissioning: “Go and teach all nations.” In his zeal for mission work, he left Europe and migrated to the United States. He was ordained in 1836 and dedicated himself to the care of the faithful living in the Niagara area of New York.
Six years after his ordination, Neumann entered the Redemptorists and ministered to the German communities in cities like Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
In 1852, and at the young age of 41, Neumann was named Bishop of Philadelphia. His years as Bishop of Philadelphia were incredibly significant for the Catholic Church in the United States. He founded the Third Order of St. Francis of Glen Riddle and is regarded as the second founder of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. In seven years, he built 89 churches, several hospitals and orphanages. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the Church was the establishment of a Catholic school system which became the model of Catholic education throughout the United States.
St. John Neumann believed that each of us is called by God to a unique and holy purpose. This belief informed his dedication to Catholic education and served as his motivation to spread the Gospel in mission territories.
St. John Neumann was the first American bishop to be canonized. He is buried at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia. Visit his shrine by clicking here.
Prayer to St. John Neumann
God of the Journey, through the intercession of St. John Neumann, patron of immigrants, we pray for those who leave their homelands longing for freedom and new opportunities.
May they recognize you as their traveling companion and find a welcome awaiting them.
We make this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
O Jesus, who on earth commanded and practiced a hidden life, grant that in these our days of pride and outward display, the example of your servant John Neumann may lead us to follow your humble ways.
Grant, O Lord, that like your holy bishop we may do all our work with the pure intention of pleasing you and let not our deeds be done to win the favor of others but to give glory to our Father in heaven.
We thank you that our fellow citizen and devoted missionary bishop is recognized among the saints of your Church in heaven, and we beseech you, O Lord, to glorify him on earth by granting the favors we ask through his intercession. Amen.