This week sees the bicentenary of the birth of Saint John Neumann, the first U.S.
bishop to be canonized. He was born in Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic
and Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, the same see where St John was bishop,
has been appointed as the papal legate at celebrations marking the 200th
anniversary of Neumann’s birth in his home country. Cardinal Rigali spoke to Susy
Hodges about the figure of this exemplary Christian and his many accomplishments:
"he had a great love for the people, a great love for the immigrants, a great love
for the Holy Eurcharist ...he gave of himself to help peole to build the gospel and
to live the gospel."
The Cardinal went on to say that St John Neumann was
a bishop "of whom we're all very very proud" and whose memory "is very much alive"
as shown by "the constant flow of pilgrims to his shrine."
Asked about the
saint's achievements, Cardinal Rigali pointed to John Neumann's untiring work in setting
up dozens of schools in the archdiocese saying: "he laid the basis for Catholic schooling
in the U.S."