Born in Bohemia in 1811, St. John Neumann was a quiet lad. He was a good student who studied at the University of Prague. He missed ordination when his bishop went sick. Bohemia had too many priests, so he decided to head for the New World.
John Neumann arrived at Manhattan in 1836, He was immediately ordained and assigned a parish in a rural area outside Buffalo. He joined the Redemptorist priests aiding the poorest. He became bishop of Philadelphia in 1852 where he increased the number of church schools from two to more than 100. The number of students increased from 500 to more than 9,000.
A dynamo, John Neumann built 50 churches. He died of a stroke in downtown Philadelphia in 1860. He was the first American bishop and man to be canonized when Pope Paul VI did so in 1963. His feast day is Jan. 5.