Neumann, John Nepomucene, St.
NEUMANN, JOHN NEPOMUCENE, ST.
Bishop; b. Prachatitz, Bohemia, March 28, 1811; d. Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 5, 1860. He was the son of Philip and Agnes (Lebis) Neumann. He was educated in Budweis, Bohemia, at the gymnasium of the Pious Workers, and entered the diocesan seminary in 1831. Two years later he transferred to the school of theology at the Charles Ferdinand University, Prague, Bohemia. Upon completing his seminary studies in 1835, he was not immediately ordained because the Diocese of Budweis was sufficiently staffed with priests. Having resolved to become a missionary in the U.S., he decided to set out even before ordination. He landed in New York with but one suit of clothes and a dollar; he was accepted into the Diocese of New York and ordained by Bishop John Dubois June 25, 1836. After serving four years in the region of Buffalo, N.Y., Neumann entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and took his vows at Baltimore, Md., on Jan. 16, 1842. He was the first Redemptorist to be professed in America. Following appointments as assistant parish priest in Baltimore and pastor of St. Philomena's parish in Pittsburgh, Pa., he was named viceregent, and later vice provincial, of all Redemptorists in the U.S. During his two years in these posts (1847–49), he placed the Redemptorists in the forefront of the parochial school movement. He subsequently served as consultor to the vice provincial and pastor of St. Alphonsus parish, Baltimore.
Neumann was named bishop of Philadelphia by Pius IX, and was consecrated in Baltimore by Abp. Francis Patrick Kenrick on March 28, 1852. During Neumann's episcopacy, over 80 churches were constructed in the diocese. He organized the parochial schools into a diocesan system and increased the number of pupils almost twentyfold within a few years. He established the Forty Hours devotion on a diocesan basis and made yearly visitations that took him into every parish and mission station. Among the teaching orders he introduced into his diocese were the Holy Cross Sisters, the Holy Cross Brothers, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Immaculate Heart Sisters, and the Christian Brothers. He founded the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Philadelphia and the preparatory seminary at Glen Riddle, Pa. The construction of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Philadelphia, was begun by him. Neumann wrote many articles for Catholic newspapers and periodicals but did not always sign his writings. Among his published works were Kleiner Katechismus (1846), the larger Katholischer Katechismus (1846), and Biblische Geschichte des Alten und Neuen Testamentes zum Gebrauch der katolischen Schulen (1849). His heavy burden led Pius IX to give him a coadjutor, Bp. James F. Wood, in 1857.
Neumann, small of stature and humble in manner, possessed organizing ability and a knowledge of six modern languages. Many openly admired his saintliness during his lifetime. After his death, stories of his hidden virtues and of favors obtained through his intercession led the Philadelphia diocesan authorities to examine his life history. This ordinary process was succeeded by the apostolic process in 1897. On Dec. 11, 1921, Benedict XV solemnly declared the heroicity of Neumann's virtues. On Oct. 13, 1963, Neumann became the first American bishop to be beatified.
Bibliography: The Autobiography of Saint John Neumann, tr. a. c. rush (Boston 1977). t. e. byerley, Saint John Neumann: Wonder-Worker of Philadelphia: Recent Miracles, 1961–1991 (Philadelphia, 1992). a. r. callaghan, The Tridentine Model of the Bishop and His Jurisdictional Authority and Pastoral Concern as Regards the Sacrament of Orders and the Episcopacy of John Nepomucene Neumann (Rome 1978). m. j. curley, Venerable John Neumann, CSSR, Fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (Washington 1952). p. douglas, Saint of Philadelphia: The Life of Bishop John Neumann (Cambridge, Mass. 1977). p. dwan, Saint John Neumann (London 1977). Funeral Obsequies of Right Reverend John Nepomucene Neumann … (Philadelphia 1860). brother flavius, The House on Logan Square; A Story of Blessed John Neumann (Notre Dame, Ind., 1964). w. frean, Blessed John Neumann, the Helper of the Afflicted (Ballarat, Australia 1963). j. j. galvin, In Journeyings Often; Blessed John Nepomucene Neumann (Rome 1963); Blessed John Neumann, Bishop of Philadelphia (Baltimore 1964). j. f. hindman, An Ordinary Saint (New York 1977). t. langan, John Neumann: Harvester of Souls (Huntington, Ind. 1976). m. p. litkowski, Friend to All (Battle Creek, Mich. 1987). j. a. manton and f. a. novak, Venerable Bishop John Nepomucene Neumann (St. Paul 1960). f. x. murphy, John Nepomucene Neumann, Saint (South Hackensack, N.J. 1977). r. h. wilson, St. John Neumann (Philadelphia 1977).
[m. j. curley]