Today’s Saint

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January 5 | Persistence

Saint John Neumann

A.D. 1811–1860

Few can imagine just how powerful persistence is. Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States, said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent . . . Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Saint John Neumann was a persistent man.

About the only simple thing in John Neumann's life was God's clear call for him to become a priest. Everything after that, including becoming a priest, was complicated. But he persistently forged a path forward, even if it zigzagged at times.

John Neumann wanted to be a priest in his homeland, Bohemia, but there were already too many priests. So he learned English, wrote to a bishop in New York, and was ordained in America.

John Neumann wanted to serve the various immigrant communities living around him, but he didn’t speak their languages. So he rode from community to community on a horse he was too short for and learned directly from the people, even when they made fun of him. By age twenty-four, he spoke six languages, and would later learn two more.

As the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia, John Neumann wanted to create more Catholic schools, but there weren’t enough Catholic teachers. So he founded a parish a month, and attached schools to them so priests and nuns could be teachers.

Every time Saint John Neumann set a goal, there were difficulties and complications ahead. But persistent people don’t let difficulties stop them. No matter what, they keep moving in the direction of their goals. 

The virtue of persistence allows us to focus on a task and see it through to completion. It means taking the next step, no matter how small that step may be.

Do I see obstacles as reasons to give up on my goal, or as opportunities for growth and learning? What are a few goals I am truly determined to achieve, no matter what gets in my way?

The obstacles in my path are there to help me grow. I will not let them stop me.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Patron Saint of: Immigrants and Sick Children

Symbols: Pectoral Cross

Feast Day: January 5

Feast Day Shared by: St. Edward (King of England)

Canonized: June 19, 1977

Canonized by: Pope Paul VI

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