A Play: Saint John Neumann


CHARACTERS: Maid, Rosalind, Lady L, Lady M, Lady N
(Maid in beautifully decorated Philadelphia home is pouring tea and serving little pastries to fashionably dressed ladies. It is the early 1800s.)
Lady M: So good of you to have us to tea, Rosalind. Who will be our guest today?
Rosalind: Rosalind: I’ve invited Bishop Neumann.
(All three ladies voice their surprise.)
Rosalind: Why, what is the problem? He’s the archbishop!
Lady L: He’s the worst-dressed, poorest man in all of Philadelphia.
Rosalind: He’s also the holiest.
Lady M: I’m not talking about holiness. I think the archbishop should have polished manners and be fashionable.
Lady N: Well, he is intelligent. He speaks six languages, and in eight years, he has opened more than 100 schools in the city.
Lady L: He’s an immigrant. I know he has visited all the parishes. People give him money, and what does he do with it? Gives it to those who are poor. He lives like a pauper.
Lady N: Sometimes I feel sorry for him. Bishop Neumann seems so lonely. All those responsibilities he has must be terrible.
Lady M: What responsibilities?
Rosalind: He’s the general superior of the Redemptorist priests; he has to beg money for his parishes; he has to get teaching sisters for the schools and build convents; he travels through all kinds of weather to serve the parishes that need a priest.
Lady N: And he doesn’t complain.
Lady M: I heard he just wrote two catechisms and a Bible history in German.
Lady L: I’ve seen his articles in the Catholic press. I can’t criticize him for not being hardworking.
Rosalind: He has faith and prays. The man is always in church. I think he’s a saint.
Lady L: I must admit, despite his dress, all the priests say he is a bishop with whom anyone can talk.
Maid: Madam, the bishop is here.
Rosalind: Good, Bring him in. Ladies, this is a priest I’d like you to meet, Bishop John Neumann.

Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio