The Redemptorist way of life has proven to be a path of sanctity. Alphonsus was canonized a saint in 1839. Thirty-two years later he was declared a doctor of the church. In 1950, he was named the patron saint of confessors and moral theologians. His feast is celebrated on August 1.
Brother Gerard Majella died in 1755 at the age of 29. He was declared a saint in 1904; his feast day is October 16. He may well be our most popular saint. He is the patron saint of expectant mothers.
St. Clement Hofbauer joined the Redemptorists in Italy, and in 1785 returned to his native Austria and established a community there. He was canonized in 1909 and his feast day is March 15.
Two “honorary New Yorkers”
Two Redemptorists who served here in the United States are in one way examples of the saying, “It ain’t what you got, it’s what you do with it.” They are Bishop John Neumann and Father Francis X. Seelos. They did not have a lot of time on earth. Each died at 48 years of age – one from a stroke, the other from yellow fever. What they did with their short lives was extraordinary.
Each was known, all during his lifetime, for being a true man of prayer, holiness and extraordinary kindness. And each used to visit this parish here on East 3rd Street, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, preaching in our church and meeting and chatting with our people.
St. John Neumann
St. John Neumann was canonized in 1977 and his feast day is January 5. His body rests in the lower church of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia, where thousands come every year to ask that he pray with them and for them.
John Neumann arrived in New York in 1833 as a seminarian from Bohemia. He was ordained a priest in June, 1836 by Bishop Dubois at old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mott Street. The following week he was pastor of the whole Niagara frontier in western New York, where many German and Irish immigrants had settled.
He met some of the Redemptorists, and soon received the blessing from his bishop to join them. John Neumann was the first to make his profession as a Redemptorist in the New World, in 1842 in Baltimore. He served as community superior and pastor in parishes in Pittsburgh and in Baltimore. In 1848 he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In 1852, at 41 years old, Father John was appointed bishop of Philadelphia.He died suddenly at 48 in 1860.
During his lifetime Bishop Neumann was known above all for his personal holiness, his humility and his energy. He was the first to organize the Forty Hours' Devotion in every parish of the diocese. In 1852 he established a unified system of Catholic schools under a board of education in the diocese. It became the model for the growth of Catholic schools in the U.S.A.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, C.SS.R.
Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed on April 9, 2000. His feast day is October 5. The holiness of his life and the strength of his love were recognized by many people even during his lifetime.
Francis Xavier Seelos was born Bavaria, Germany. He came to the United States as a seminarian in 1842. He very much wanted to minister to the German immigrants here.
In 1843 he was ordained a priest in Baltimore. His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director. People came to him for spiritual and material help from miles around.
During his life Father Seelos served as a pastor, a missionary, a professor and director of students, and as a superior in his Redemptorist communities.
He was called the cheerful priest, the gentle confessor, the comfort of the sick. His final assignment was at St. Mary’s in New Orleans where he took care of victims of yellow fever. He died of the dreaded disease in October, 1867. His body rests at St Mary of the Assumption church in New Orleans.