Reading I 1 Jn 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
St. John Neumann, C.Ss.R. lived the words written by St. John, the beloved apostle. St. John said in his epistle: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God."
As a young priest John Neumann was loved as the pastor in a large area of Niagara Falls, his parish. He was a zealous missionary. He traveled to every village in his parish to visit the sick, teaching in any place people gathered even in taverns, and he celebrated Mass on kitchen tables. The people came to love him.
He worked a large area alone and he became attracted to the Redemptorist Congregation because they were dedicated to community life and to helping the poor and most abandoned. He joined the Redemptorists and was the first member to profess vows in the United States.
In 1852 , John was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia at the age of 41. He worked tirelessly to organize a Catholic diocesan school system. He was instrumental in increasing the number of Catholic schools from 2 in his diocese to 100. John brought in many religious communities to provide teachers for the schools. One of the order of nuns who assisted was the Oblate Sisters of Divine Providence.
John Neumann continued as Bishop to perform his pastoral duties and visited the rural parishes in his diocese, something that bothered the wealthy Philadelphians. He even rode in a manure wagon to reach the rural parishioners. He sat on a plank seat above the cart's contents. This seemed to make John chuckle saying, "Have you ever seen such an entourage for a bishop!"
St. John Neumann was so successful with people because he could speak 8 different languages. He even learned to speak Gaelic when he heard that there were many Irish immigrants moving into his diocese. An Irish woman said, "Isn't it grand that we have an Irish Bishop!" Neumann was from Bohemia (now known as the Czech republic). He was a master of learning languages and loved to communicate with all his people.
Languages wasn't the only gifts of St. John Neumann. John was a good organizer, spiritual writer and a great preacher. In seven years of St, John's service as Bishop, he built 89 churches, many hospitals and orphanages. On January 5, 1865 at the age of 48, St. John Neumann died suddenly of a heart attack on a street in Philadelphia. One could say that his heart burst with love and compassion for his people.
Pope Paul VI said this at Neumann's Canonization, "He was close to the sick, he loved to be with the poor, he was a friend of sinners and now he is the glory of all emigrants."
St. John Neumann, C.Ss.R. lived St. John's epistle, "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God." St. John Neumann truly knows God. He saw Him in everyone of the people he helped and loved.
Let us pray for all priests to carry the Spirit of God with them to all those they minister.
Pray that our priests are holy like St. John Neumann, C.Ss.R.
Pray the PAPA Prayer for Priests.