St. John Nepomucene Neumann
The Bishop of Philadelphia lay crumpled in the snow a few blocks from his new cathedral on Logan Square. By the time a priest reached him with the holy oils, Bishop Neumann was dead. That was January 5, 1860. At his own request Bishop Neumann was buried in a basement crypt in Saint Peter's Church where he would be with his Redemptorist confreres.
At the time of John Neumann, America represented new values and new hopes. Bishop Neumann saw these in their relationship to the ultimate, supreme possession to which humanity is destined. With Saint Paul he could testify that "all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3, 22). And with Augustine he knew that our hearts are restless, until they rest in the Lord (St. Augustine, Confessions, 1, 1).
His love for people was authentic brotherly love. It was real charity: missionary and pastoral charity. It meant that he gave himself to others. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, he lay down his life for the sheep, for Christ's flock: to provide for their needs, to lead them to salvation. And today, with the Evangelist, we solemnly proclaim: "There is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn. 15, 13).
John Neumann's pastoral zeal was manifested in many ways. Through faithful and persevering service, he brought to completion the generosity of his initial act of missionary dedication. He helped children to satisfy their need for truth, their need for Christian doctrine, for the teaching of Jesus in their lives. He did this both by catechetical instruction and by promoting, with relentless energy, the Catholic school system in the United States. And we still remember the words of our late Apostolic Delegate in Washington, the beloved Cardinal Amleto Cicognani: "You Americans", he said, "possess two great treasures: the Catholic school and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Guard them like the apple of your eye"
(Cfr. Epistola 2 June 1963).PRAYER TO SAINT JOHN NEUMANNMerciful Father, You have given me all that I have in this world, even life itself. In all my daily needs, help me to remember the needs of others too. Make me aware of the need to pray to You not just for myself but for the Church, the Pope, for the clergy and for people who suffer any need.
Make me as selfless as Saint John Neumann. Throughout my life, give me the grace to direct my first thoughts to the service of You and of others. Make my prayer - "Your will be done" knowing that in Your mercy and love, Your will for me is my sanctification. I ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.