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Bishop of Philadelphia, was born in Prachatitz in Bohemia on 28th March 1811, son of Philip Neumann and Agnes Lebis. He attended school in Budweis and entered the seminary there in 1831.
But John didn’t give up. He had learned English by working in a factory with English-speaking workers so he wrote to the bishops in America. Finally, the bishop in New York agreed to ordain him. In order to follow God’s call to the priesthood John would have to leave his home forever and travel across the ocean to a new and rugged land.
His knowledge of six modern languages made him particularly acceptable for work in the multi-lingual American society of the nineteenth century. After working in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, in 1847 he was appointed Visitor or Major Superior of the Redemptorists in the United States. Father Frederick von Held, superior of the Belgian province, to which the American houses belonged, said of him: “He is a great man who combines piety with a strong and prudent personality”. He needed these qualities during the two years he was in office, as the American foundation were passing through a trying period of adjustment.
He founded the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis to teach in the schools. Among the more than eighty churches built during his episcopate must be mentioned the cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, which he commenced.