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  Saint John Neumann (1811-1860)
John Neumann was born in a village in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. His parents were devoutly Catholic and devoted to their six children. John, the first son, was the academic star of the family—a scholar with a special gift for languages. He spoke Bohemian and German as a child and went on to learn French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, English, and Latin.
At age 20, John set his heart on becoming a priest. At age 25, John was ready for ordination, but the bishop of his diocese postponed all ordinations for a year. The diocese had more priests than positions to fill.
January 5
Saints of the Season Winter 2018
 John Neumann was not about to wait. He wrote letters to bishops in the United States,
asking to be ordained and assigned as a German-speaking missionary. When John did not get answers to his letters, he decided to apply in person. On April 20, 1836, he sailed on an American ship, taking his own food and a straw mattress.
After a rough Atlantic crossing, John arrived in New York City and located the diocesan o ice, where Bishop John DuBois welcomed him. The bishop put John to work at once, preparing German children for First
Holy Communion since he spoke their language. Shortly afterward, Bishop DuBois ordained John. On
the following day, Father John Neumann celebrated his first Mass and gave his German pupils their First Communion.
Father John Neumann dedicated his life to the immigrant Church of America. Like most immigrants, he became an American citizen. A virtual dynamo, he taught, preached, visited the sick, and said Mass wherever he was needed. He also taught himself Gaelic in order to minister to Irish Catholic immigrants.
John Neumann was always close to his people. Even after he became Bishop of Philadelphia, he visited parishes and every Catholic institution, filled in when a priest was needed for a Mass, and made time for the prisoners at the county jail. He founded nearly 100 Catholic schools and built 50 churches. Bishop Neumann seemed inexhaustible, but he was not yet 50 when he collapsed on a snowy street and died before he could be taken to a hospital.
Thousands of Catholics from everywhere he had served—New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia—came to pay their final respects to their priest and bishop. He was laid to rest at Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.
On June 19, 1977, Pope Paul VI named John Neumann a saint of the Church.
       A Service of
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