87 Facts About John Neumann


John Nepomucene Neumann was a Catholic immigrant from Bohemia.


John Neumann came to the United States in 1836, where he was ordained, joined the Redemptorist order, and became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852.


In Philadelphia, Neumann founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the US.


John Neumann married the daughter of a Czech harness maker, Agnes Lepsi, on July 17,1805, and Neumann was the third of their six children: Catherine, Veronica, John, Joan, Louise, and Wenceslaus.


John Neumann was born on March 28,1811, and was baptized in the village church on the same day.


John Neumann began his education in the town school when he was 6, and was a studious and hardworking child, whose mother called him "my little bibliomaniac" for his love of books and reading.


John Neumann spoke German at home and at school, and was only passably acquainted in his childhood with Czech.


John Neumann entered the school in a class of 103 students, of whom less than fifty ultimately completed the six-year gymnasium course.


John Neumann was disappointed with the course's slow pace in his first years and thought he might easily have been able to advance to the third year, but this was not allowed.


The pace now became too fast for many students, and about twenty of John Neumann's classmates dropped out, but he persevered and passed the examination that year with a fair average, as he had the two previous years.


John Neumann's grades suffered in the fourth year while he was boarding in Budweis with a woman whose son disturbed him in his studies.


John Neumann's father, observing that he seemed to have lost interest in his studies, initially encouraged him to stay home and choose a trade.


John Neumann attained a better than fair average in philosophy, philology, and mathematics, fully overcoming his earlier weakness in the latter.


John Neumann excelled in botany and astronomy, forming a club with fellow students to discuss scientific subjects in their spare time.


John Neumann's mother sensing that his real desire was to be a priest, encouraged him to apply to the seminary even without testimonials from influential people, and to his surprise, he was accepted.


John Neumann entered the seminary of the Diocese of Budweis on November 1,1831.


John Neumann's grades were again very good, receiving the highest grade in every subject except in one semester when he received the second-highest possible grade in pedagogy.


Nevertheless, John Neumann continued to study French independently and presented himself for the examination, managing to pass with a very high grade despite not attending all of the lectures.


John Neumann was disappointed that the university did not offer classes in English but studied independently from a book and by engaging in conversation with some English workmen at a nearby factory.


John Neumann found the lectures in Prague disagreeable because of the Febronian views of his professors, which John Neumann regarded as heterodox.


The lector in dogmatic theology, Jerome Zeidler, denied papal infallibility, which John Neumann supported in a treatise he sent on the question to an inquiring friend in Budweis, though there is no evidence John Neumann openly opposed Zeidler in class.


John Neumann said of Zeidler that he enjoyed too little reputation with the students to do them much harm.


However, correspondence between Europe and America was slow, and no definite response regarding John Neumann was received from Philadelphia.


John Neumann expected to be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Ernest Ruzicka at the end of the academic year in 1835, but on June 10, Ruzicka became seriously ill.


John Neumann's family were shocked and saddened when he returned home and informed them of his intention to become a missionary, and his sisters broke down and cried.


John Neumann departed for America on the morning of February 8,1836, without telling anyone except his sister Veronica that he was leaving Bohemia; his mother thought he was leaving only for another of his journeys to Budweis.


John Neumann went to see Bishop Ruzicka, who gave his blessing for the trip, but did not provide the dimissorial letters John Neumann desired.


Perplexed by the proceedings but confident that the matter would be straightened out in due course, John Neumann departed with 200 francs in his purse.


The next morning, a professor at the University of Munich advised John Neumann to get in touch with Bishop Simon Brute of Vincennes, who was then in Europe recruiting missionaries for his diocese.


Rass revealed that he had no money to give John Neumann, who did not have enough for the journey overseas, as the money that had been intended for John Neumann had been given to some other missionaries from Alsace-Lorraine.


John Neumann went on from Strasbourg to Nancy, where he spent four days with the Sisters of St Charles, some of whom had been brought by Dichtl as novices from Bohemia so that they could return to found a house there, before continuing to Paris by way of Chalons-en-Champagne and Meaux.


John Neumann stayed for a whole month in Paris, buying books and seeing the sights.


John Neumann stayed longer, hoping to receive other news or meet Brute personally when he came to Paris.


Still, as the weeks went on, John Neumann was uneasy, as his finances were very strained, and the money Rass had promised from the rich merchant did not materialize.


Finally, John Neumann decided to wait no longer and sail to America since he was confident German-speaking missionaries would be needed there.


On Easter Tuesday, John Neumann left Paris and arrived in Le Havre shortly after noon, April 7,1836.


John Neumann chose to sail on the largest vessel sailing out of Le Havre, a 210-foot three-master with a sixty-foot beam named the Europa, because it seemed less crowded with passengers than other ships.


John Neumann was seasick for three days but felt better afterward.


For three more days, the ship was becalmed and made no progress; when the boat came within sight of icebergs off the banks of Newfoundland, John Neumann was chilled by the thought of what might happen if the ship should crash into one of them.


An hour before noon on the feast of Corpus Christi, John Neumann stepped ashore with one tattered suit of clothes and one dollar in his pocket.


John Neumann was glad to learn from Raffeiner that a note had been sent to Canon Rass three weeks before saying he had been accepted as a priest for the Diocese of New York.


Dubois greeted John Neumann and, having sufficient guarantees of John Neumann's education in Europe, told him to immediately prepare for ordination.


John Neumann asked for some time for immediate preparation, which the bishop granted, as he was set to leave for a visitation.


Dubois wished John Neumann to stop at Rochester before continuing to Buffalo.


John Neumann began to teach the children, whom he found sadly neglected and unable to speak either German or English correctly and celebrate the sacraments.


John Neumann chose to station himself at Williamsville, from which he cared for an area of some twelve to fifteen miles around it where four hundred Catholic families lived, of whom three hundred were German.


John Neumann completed this structure, inducing Wirtz to remit a loan he had made of $400 on the condition that a memorial Mass be said for him every year after his death.


Still, John Neumann, finding the man's conduct unsatisfactory, dismissed him and took up the task of teaching himself, two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, until securing the services of another teacher seven months later.


John Neumann was a gifted teacher, and his students fondly remembered his stories in catechism class years later.


John Neumann again had a school after moving his headquarters to North Bush in 1837 and was erecting a third schoolhouse at Lancaster by December 1839.


Still, John Neumann's workload was heavy, particularly in virtue of the considerable distances to be traversed on foot, with a heavy pack on his back containing his vestments.


The nearest out-mission was two hours away, the furthest twelve hours, and it was necessary to return home to North Bush almost every night, as there were no accommodations at the outposts, and besides, John Neumann needed to be at home to teach every day.


People laughed at the clumsy way John Neumann rode; because he was only.


John Neumann refrained from open arguments with contentious trustees, and no matter what they said, he would smile and say nothing, which more than one trustee regarded as disrespectful.


One day, John Neumann was called down to a meeting of the trustees in the tavern below Wirtz's house and informed that the meeting's purpose was to decide whether Wirtz should be obliged to dismiss the servant girl.


John Neumann, astounded though he was, responded with only a wry smile and a quiet disavowal.


John Neumann accepted free lodgings from a friendly Catholic, John Schmidt, who lived a mile and a half from the church, which Neumann had to walk every morning over an almost impassable road to say his daily Mass.


John Neumann expressed his pleasure upon seeing the more advanced stage of the buildings, the schools, the careful attention to the sick and the dying, and the weekly, even daily rounds made by the young pastor.


In North Bush, the people got together and bought five acres of land close to the church on which John Neumann could build a house and grow some vegetables for his support.


John Neumann worked at times on this and other buildings with his own hands and rejoiced when he moved into the two-room log cabin.


John Neumann loved his family intensely, and Wenzel's coming to help him was a godsend.


John Neumann began to experience spiritual aridity and feared his love for God was growing less fervent.


John Neumann saw pride in himself though everyone else said he was humble and thought he was slothful.


John Neumann declared that he had an intense longing for the company of other priests.


On September 4,1840, John Neumann wrote to Prost, the Redemptorists' superior in America, asking for admission to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.


Still, leaving the negotiations with Hughes in Pax and Prost's hands as they advised, John Neumann left the Buffalo area on October 8 or 9,1840.


When Neumann joined them, they had four foundations: St Philomena's in Pittsburgh, St John's in Baltimore, St Joseph's in Rochester, and St Alphonsus' in Norwalk, Ohio.


John Neumann arrived in Pittsburgh and presented himself to the Redemptorists on the morning of Sunday, October 18,1840, where he was invited on the first day to sing the High Mass and preach, which he did despite the fatigue of his long journey from Buffalo.


John Neumann took his religious vows as a member of the congregation in Baltimore, in January 1842.


John Neumann was naturalized as a United States citizen in Baltimore on February 10,1848.


John Neumann served as the pastor of St Augustine Church in Elkridge, Maryland, from 1849 to 1851.


John Neumann served as parish priest at St Alphonsus Church in Baltimore.


Some settled in the diocese's rural parts, similar to the rural areas of New York state where John Neumann had begun his ministry, but many stayed in the city.


John Neumann was particularly committed to providing educational opportunities to immigrant children.


John Neumann became the first bishop to organize a diocesan school system, as Catholic parents wanted their children taught in the Catholic tradition.


John Neumann actively invited religious institutes to establish new houses within the diocese to provide necessary social services.


In 1855, John Neumann supported the foundation of a congregation of religious sisters in the city, the Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia.


John Neumann brought the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Germany to assist in religious instruction and staff an orphanage.


John Neumann intervened to save the Oblate Sisters of Providence from dissolution; this congregation of African-American women was founded by Haitian refugees in Baltimore.


The large diocese was not wealthy, and John Neumann became known for his personal frugality.


John Neumann kept and wore only one pair of boots throughout his residence in the United States.


In 1854, John Neumann traveled to Rome and was present at St Peter's Basilica on December 8, when Pius IX solemnly defined, ex cathedra, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


John Neumann visited Prachatice for a week from February 3 1855.


John Neumann was buried, per his request, at St Peter's Church beneath the undercroft floor directly below the high altar.


John Neumann was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XV in 1921.


John Neumann was beatified by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council on October 13,1963, and was canonized by that same pope on June 19,1977.


The Closing Mass for the John Neumann Year was held on June 23,2012, in Philadelphia.