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262 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated

house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then provincial of the congrega-

tion. In 1852 he was named the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. His entire life

as a priest and as a bishop was dedicated to the service of others. While

on his way to minister to the sick at a hospital, he collapsed from sheer

exhaustion on the street and died in 1860. He was canonized a saint in

1977. His feast day is January 5.

When John Neumann was pastor of the Redemptorist parish of St.

Philomena’s in Pittsburgh, he had a young assistant named Francis Xavier

Seelos. After serving at the parish for nine years, Fr. Seelos became the

pastor of St. Alphonsus parish in Baltimore. Three years later, he became

the rector of the Redemptorist seminary, which he relocated from

Cumberland to Annapolis, Maryland. He instilled in the seminarians a

sense of dedication to God and to God’s people, as well as a love of the

priesthood and the desire to live a holy and virtuous life.

In 1863 he joined the mission band, the order’s prime apostolate. He

conducted missions in countless parishes in over a dozen states. In 1867

he was transferred to New Orleans, Louisiana. Soon after his arrival, a yel-

low fever epidemic broke out. The sick calls came frequently. The funer-

als were many. Fr. Seelos was stricken with the virus and died from it. He

was forty-eight. He was much loved as a confessor who brought spiritual

healing to people. The Holy Spirit chose to work through Fr. Seelos to bring

physical healings to a number of people. Such healings, attributed to

his intercession, have been reported for many years since his death. Fr.

Seelos was beatified (the last step before sainthood) on April 9, 2000.

St. John Neumann and Blessed Francis Seelos exemplified what the

Sacrament of Holy Orders calls priests to do. They were outstanding shep-

herds of God’s people, bringing them the Sacraments of salvation, inspir-

ing them to conversion, and witnessing in their own lives the holiness that

drew their people to follow Christ more deeply.



Holy Orders and Matrimony belong to the Sacraments at the Service

of Communion. This means they are primarily directed toward the sal-