Redemptorist Bishop Saint
In 1836, a young seminarian named John Neumann arrived in the U.S. from his native Bohemia. He left his family in the dead of night to become a missionary in America. His one goal was to bring the love of God to forgotten and neglected souls.
He joined the Redemptorists in 1842, and in 1852, at the age of 41, he was named the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. In the eight short years before his death, Neumann built almost 90 churches, founded the nation’s parochial school system, established several religious orders, and defended the Catholic faith in a hostile climate.
On January 5, 2011, the feast of St. John Neumann, the Redemptorists opened the Neumann Year , which will end on June 23, 2012. Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali celebrated the opening Mass on the feast day at the saint’s shrine in St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia. A parish-wide celebration will be held January 9, 2011.
Several events are planned throughout the Neumann Year to share with the world his message of faith, education, and charity. Some activities include monthly Saturday retreats at the Shrine of St. John Neumann , special parish missions and evenings of recollection preached by Redemptorist missionaries in parishes throughout the East Coast, and an essay contest for Catholic middle- and high-school students.
“The witness of his life speaks in a particular way to our own age,” said former Baltimore Provincial Patrick Woods. “As political battles are waged about undocumented immigrants and our borders, we think of our saint who was a zealous pastor to waves of immigrants.
“St. John Neumann lived in an age of fierce anti-Catholicism; today, we face a spirit-sapping secularism. Educating our young people is a great challenge for us today as it was for the founder of the parochial school system,” Woods said.
During the Neumann Year, the Redemptorists especially encourage pilgrimages to the Shrine of St. John Neumann. The Shrine includes the body of St. John Neumann, as well as several relics and artifacts.
“The Shrine is a place of serenity, a place of holiness, and a place where St. John Neumann, in his love and dedication for people of all nationalities, races, and even religions, still intercedes and blesses God’s people,” said Very Rev. Kevin Moley, former pastor of St. Peter’s Church and director of the Shrine of St. John Neumann and now Provincial Superior. “God still uses one of his humble servants in so many miraculous ways. We are very blessed in having with us this great Redemptorist, Bishop, and Saint.”
“God has given the Church and the Baltimore Province of Redemptorists a great gift in St. John Neumann,” said Father Woods. “Let the coming year be a Jubilee Year of Grace as we come to know more deeply St. John Neumann, his love of God and the Blessed Mother, and his untiring zeal for the poor.”