The first American bishop to be canonized and the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. A native of Bohemia, he studied at the University of Prague, became a noted scholar, and entered the religious life. Deeply inspired by the letters of Father Frederic Baraga to the Leopold Missionary Society, he volunteered to labor in America, arriving in New York and receiving ordination on June 25, 1836. The next four years were spent in missionary work among the members of the German community around Niagara Falls. In 1840, he joined the Redemptorists in 1842- the first member to be professed in America - and ten years later, on March 28, 1852, he was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia at the suggestion of Archbishop Francis Kenrick of Baltimore. As bishop, Neumann founded fifty churches in the diocese, advanced the program on the cathedral, and was noted especially for his contribution to Catholic education. Finding only two parochial schools at his arrival, Neumann established nearly one hundred by the time of his passing. He also cared for the poor and orphans, and founded the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1963, he was canonized in 1977.
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By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
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