PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Redemptorists who run the St. John Neumann shrine in North Philadelphia are launching a jubilee year today to mark the Philadelphia saint’s 200th birthday.
Father Robert Harrison, is a Redemptorist priest and an assistant pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Church and helps supervise the St. John Neumann shrine there.
Harrison says Neumann was Philadelphia’s fourth bishop, established the diocesan school system in the 1850s, and was responsible for getting 90 churches built in the region.
But Harrison says despite his enormous responsibilities, Neumann also was interested in fostering faith in the children of his era and frequently ran into youngsters while walking to various places.
“And if he would see a young person that was a Catholic, he would ask them a religious question,” Harrison said. “And, if they answered the question correctly he reached his pocket and gave them a piece of hard candy. The day that he died as a bishop, when they were cleaning out his pockets, he still carried that candy with him.”
Harrison says the shrine will encourage pilgrimages and plans special programs through June 2012.
Reported by Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio