JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, BISHOP
– RICHARD P. McBRIEN-
John Nepomucene Neumann (1811–60), the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, was born in Bohemia of a German father and Czech mother.Named after John Nepomucen, the patron saint of Bohemia, he came to the United States with the intention of doing missionary work after the Austrian government forced the local bishop to postpone ordinations. Neumann arrived in Manhattan in June 1836 and was ordained within three weeks. After joining the Redemptorists, he became a popular preacher among the immigrant communities of Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
In 1852 he was appointed the fourth bishop of Philadelphia and embarked on a vigorous program of building some one hundred churches and eighty schools in Delaware and the eastern half of Pennsylvania. He completed the unfinished cathedral and founded a new congregation of women, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, to help staff the increasingly crowded schools. On January 5, 1860, Bishop Neumann died suddenly. Pope Paul VI canonized him on June 17, 1977. His feast is celebrated in the United States according to the Proper Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States, but is not on the General Roman Calendar.