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St. John Neumann

Born: March 28, 1811

Died:  January 5, 1860

Feast day: January 5

Patron saint of: Catholic education

John Neumann immigrated to the United States from the present-day Czech Republic in 1836, and was ordained a priest shortly thereafter. Driven by a strong sense of ministerial zeal and a desire for community, he entered the Redemptorists, and was deployed throughout the Mid-atlantic United States, where he was a fierce defender of the poor, immigrant, and working class. By 1852, he was ordained as the bishop of Philadelphia. His eight years as bishop were characterized by his unceasing work ethic—he learned to speak six languages so that he could hear confessions from all his parishioners. His love of children drove him to create nearly two hundred Catholic schools in his time as bishop. At the age of 48, he collapsed on the streets of Philadelphia—working for the Kingdom until his last breath. St. John Neumann is a perfect example of what Pope Francis means when he says to “go to the margins,” immigrating to the United States as a young man to be a missionary, and spending his life serving the poor, the forgotten, the migrants, the rural workers, and those who did not speak the local language.

John T. Grosso

Image: Nheyob, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons