June 5, 2015
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone received an unexpected gift from Philadelphia – a first-class relic of St. John Neumann, bishop of Philadelphia and first American male saint. The archbishop will join Pope Francis and other American bishops in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September.
Ed Hopfner, director of marriage and family life, said the relic is a gift from the director of the National Shrine of St. John Neumann, Redemptorist Father Alfred Bradley, who gave it to Hopfner spontaneously when Hopfner was visiting the shrine where St. John is buried. The two struck up a conversation and Father Bradley sent the relic to Archbishop Cordileone and promised to pray for him.
Expressing gratitude for the priest’s generosity, Archbishop Cordileone said St. John Neumann “is an inspiration to all bishops for his missionary zeal, his commitment to being with his people, his accepting of things he thought were beyond him and embracing it with great love and zeal, and for being a pioneer in Catholic education.”
St. John Neumann organized the first parochial school system in the U.S., founded the first Italian national parish in the U.S, and established the nation’s first diocesan schedule for Forty Hours devotion in the U.S. He died in 1860 and was canonized in 1977.