The Faithful Venered St. John Nepomucene Neumann
Prachatice: A supporting program started at the Grand Square in Prachatice in the morning. At 10 a.m., when the Square had been already filled with about six thousand faithful, a liturgical procession issued from St. James church to the altar at the Square. At the beginning of the divine service, the Bishop of Budweis, Jiří Paďour, welcomed all present, especially the guests who had arrived. Apart from the Papal Legate, the Apostolic Nuncio Diego Causero, bishops from Germany, Austria and Slovakia and, of course, the bishops of Bohemia and Moravia came to Prachatice. Among the officials were Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg and the Consul General of the USA Ambassy to the Czech Republic, David Beam. The Mayor of Prachatice, Martin Malý, then welcomed the pilgrims on behalf of the Municipality of Prachatice, stressing the significance of the event for all citizens of Prachatice. He added, that never in the history of the town have so many faithful venered St. John Nepomucene Neumann.
The preacher of the day, Cardinal Rigali, who greeted the gathering in Czech first, said that it was an immense grace and honour for him to be appointed as the Papal Legate and to be able to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of his predecessor in Prachatice, where St. John Neumann was born, brought up, educated and raised in the Catholic faith. “The City of Prachatice, indeed the entire Diocese of České Budějovice and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are united by the legacy of a humble Bishop whose only aspiration was to live the fullness of the Christian life and to communicate Jesus Christ to his brothers and sisters. (...) When he was chosen to be Bishop of Philadelphia, John Neumann selected as his episcopal motto, ‘Passion of Christ, strengthen me.’ (Passio Christi, Conforta Me). In his prayer he derived deep strength from the Cross, from the Passion and Death of Jesus.”
Among other, Cardinal Rigali also said that St. John represents and icon of unity and hope, reconciliation and freedom in the history of America, and that many people of the Czech origin have brought strong faith to America. “Of Saint John Neumann, it is said that he spared himself in nothing. He understood, as Jesus teaches in the Gospel, that 'the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you' (Lk 6:38). To all, he gave abundantly of himself and he did so in imitation of Christ Crucified. On the Cross, Jesus poured out the infinite mercy of God. Saint John Neumann proclaimed and disbursed that mercy in his work, in his sacramental ministry, in every aspect of his brief life.” Closing his homily, the Papal Legate prayed to St. John Nepomucene Neumann that we may give oufselves up to the holy Catholic faith fully thanks to the celebration of his anniversary.
Before ending the mass, Cardinal Rigali once again thanked everyone for being able to partake in the celebrations in Prachatice and for their native who had passed over the faith of his parents to his fellow citizens in the New World.