Ten minutes from our parish lies in state the body of St. John Neumann, fourth bishop of Philadelphia. We claim him as our local saint because at one time, this part of New Jersey was under his jurisdiction and he passed through here. This past Thursday, January 5, was his feast day.
St. John Neumann was born in Czechoslovakia on March 28, 1811. As a young student, John excelled in his studies, while acquiring facility in various languages on the side. After completing his theological education, he responded to urgent appeals to serve as a missionary to German-speaking people in the United States of America.
At 25 years old, after a 40-day transatlantic ship voyage, John Neumann found himself alone, in the center of Manhattan, not ordained and without a single friend. Divine Providence did not abandon him. The next day he was welcomed to the Diocese of New York by Bishop John Dubois. He was ordained three weeks later on June 25, 1836.
Fr. Neumann began a series of assignments to serve the German Catholic communities in upstate New York. In 1840, he joined the Redemptorist Congregation. Five years later, at 35 years old, he served as the superior of all Redemptorists in the United States. He held this post for two years, and then he was made pastor of a large church in downtown Baltimore.
The Archbishop of Baltimore, James Patrick Kenrick quickly became aware of Fr. Neumann’s outstanding qualities. Kenrick recommended him for the next bishop of Philadelphia. He was consecrated on March 28, 1852, as the new ordinary of Philadelphia, which at that time included Allentown, Johnstown, Harrisburg, Scranton, Camden, Trenton and Wilmington.
During the next and final eight years of his life, Bishop Neumann was a whirlwind of pastoral zeal. He built 80 churches and 35 new schools, conducted tours of the outlying pioneer settlements, wrote a catechism and bible history, established the Forty Hours Devotion, founded new communities of religious sisters, defended the church’s civil rights, was a key leader in creating the parochial school system in the United States, participated in national bishops’ councils, and assisted in the ceremonies in Rome for the formal proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
St. John Neumann was known for his humility, piety, pastoral zeal, kindness, personal mortification and devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The holy bishop died on January 5, 1860. All of Philadelphia wept. He was canonized on June 19, 1977. All of Philadelphia rejoiced. From the first days following his burial, the faithful began to make pilgrimages to St. John Neumann’s tomb at St. Peter’s Church on the corner of Fifth Street and Girard Avenue. Reports of miracles have been heard ever since.
I recommend that you go and visit the shrine of St. John Neumann. To this day, people are receiving extraordinary favors through the Little Bishop’s intercession. I also note that a statue of St. John Neumann can be found behind our school!
St. John Neumann, pray for us!
Fr. Tim Byerley
The National Shrine of St. John Neumann
1019 North Fifth Street ~ Philadelphia, PA 19123
Prayer & Worship
Monday - Saturday
12:15p (followed by Novena)
11:00a (in Spanish)
12:30p (Upper Church)
3:30p (followed by Novena)
Monday - Saturday
6:00p Holy Hour in the Lower Church
Novena to Saint John Neumann
Weekdays after 12:15p Mass
Sunday after 3:30p Mass
Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Wednesdays after all Masses
Wednesday at 7:00p
Shrine Church & Museum Hours
Monday - Saturday
7:00a - 6:00p
7:00a - 4:30p
Prayer for the Intercession of Saint John Neumann
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.