Friday, January 4, 2013

St John Neumann

"If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?" 1 Jn 3:17

St John Neumann knew well the truth of John's first letter. Because he saw so many in need, he did everything he could to respond, including learning Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch. A a missionary to the United States, he became a kind of itinerant pastor, and although his ministry was rich and diverse, he needed community support so joined the Redemptorists.

Named bishop of Philadelphia at 41, the young Redemptorist, anxious to respond to the needy and unlearned, approached the teaching brothers and sisters in the area and invited them to serve with him in the schools of Philadelphia. Determined to give immigrant children especially a chance at a better life, John immediately began to build Catholic schools. In less than a decade Philadelphia, while had only two Catholic schools when he arrived,  had more than one hundred.

Success stories like John's continue to lift us up with hope. When people of faith work together for the good of all, everyone benefits. When John was named bishop, it was clear that Catholic schools could change the face and public voice of Catholics in the United States. The parochial school system that John began to build provided Catholics not only with a good education, it prepared them to make a difference in society, and taught them how a deep faith life could impact their neighborhoods and cities for the good of all.

Now it is our chance. How can we best advance the gospel in the 21st century? Are schools still the answer? Are hospitals? What will the new evangelization look like?

Today, pray to know how best to announce the Good News with your lives.

What aspect of church life has been most important in your faith life?

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