Sacred Heart Church, Manville NJ
The Redemptorists-Sacred Heart Church in Manville, NJ
 
 
 
Saint John Neumann (1811-1860)

St. John Neumann (pronounced Noi-man to distinguish him from the English writer, John Cardinal Newman) was born in Bohemia on March 28, 1811. He attended school in Budweis and entered the seminary there in 1831. Two years later he passed to the university in Prague, where he studied theology.
Sacred Heart of Jesus
When his preparations for the priesthood were completed in 1835, he could not be ordained for his own diocese of Budweis because of the limit placed on the number of priests. He offered himself, therefore, for work in a "mission country," the United States. On his arrival in New York almost penniless, he was accepted into the diocese and was ordained priest in June 1836. He was assigned to mission churches near Buffalo, where he labored zealously for four years.

He then felt the need for spiritual support and applied to the Redemptorists. He became the first priest to enter the Congregation in America when he took his vows in Baltimore in January 1842. From the beginning he was highly regarded for his evident holiness, for his zeal and affability. His knowledge of six languages made him particularly apt for work in the multilingual American society of the nineteenth century.


After working in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, in 1847 he was appointed
superior of the Redemptorists in the United States. Father Frederick von Held, superior of the Belgian province to which the American houses belonged, said of him: "He is a great man who combines piety with a strong and prudent personality." He needed these qualities during the two years he was in office as the American foundation was passing through a trying period of adjustment from its European background. Shortly after his period of service as superior, Redemptorists of the United States were ready to become an autonomous province in 1850.

Father Neumann was named Bishop of Philadelphia and was consecrated in Baltimore in March 1852. His diocese was a very large one and was going through a period of considerable development. He gave particular attention to organizing a diocesan education system of parish schools and providing religious Sisters and Brothers to teach in them. He also founded the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis to provide teachers. Among the more than eighty churches built during his episcopate, was the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, which he began.

St. John Neumann was a short man, never robust in health, but in his short lifetime he also found time for a considerable literary activity in addition to his pastoral duties. As well as numerous articles in Catholic papers, he published two catechisms.

He continued to be active right to the end. On January 5, 1860 he collapsed in a Philadelphia street and died. When he was canonized in June 1977, he became the first man who was a United States citizen to be declared a saint.
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