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January 5 

Saint of the day:

Saint John Neumann

Patron Saint of Catholic Education

On the 12th Day of Christmas!

(The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles' Creed.)

St. John Neumann's Story 

John was appointed bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. As bishop, he was the first to organize a diocesan Catholic school system. A founder of Catholic education in the United States of America, he increased the number of Catholic schools in his diocese from two to 100.

Saint John Neumann’s Story

Perhaps because the United States got a later start in the history of the world, it has relatively few canonized saints, but their number is increasing.

John Neumann was born in what is now the Czech Republic. After studying in Prague, he came to New York at 25 and was ordained a priest. He did missionary work in New York until he was 29, when he joined the Redemptorists and became its first member to profess vows in the United States. He continued missionary work in Maryland, Virginia and Ohio, where he became popular with the Germans.

At 41, as bishop of Philadelphia, he organized the parochial school system into a diocesan one, increasing the number of pupils almost twentyfold within a short time.

Gifted with outstanding organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities of sisters and the Christian Brothers. During his brief assignment as vice provincial for the Redemptorists, he placed them in the forefront of the parochial movement.

Well-known for his holiness and learning, spiritual writing and preaching, on October 13, 1963, John Neumann became the first American bishop to be beatified. Canonized in 1977, he is buried in St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.





National Shrine of Saint John Neumann

1019 North Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone: 215-627-3080



Songs of the season:

We Three Kings

I Saw Three Ships




Svíčková with Dumplings

This is a classic Sunday family dinner in the Czech Republic. The dish consists of sirloin beef that has been marinated and braised a day in advance. The meat is then covered in a root vegetable cream sauce and served with bread dumplings, a slice of lemon, cranberry sauce, and a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

  • 1.5 lb (680 g) beef sirloin (or round rump)

  • 2 oz (55 g) bacon fat

  • 1 cup (235 ml) beef or vegetable stock

  • TT salt

  • TT pepper

  • 1 tbsp vinegar

  • 1 large carrot, diced

  • 7 oz (200 g) root celeriac, diced

  • 1 medium parsley root, diced

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 3.5 oz (100 g) butter, melted

  • 10 black peppercorns

  • 4 allspice berries

  • 2 bay leafs

  • juice from 1 lemon or 1 tbsp vinegar

  • 1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream (plus some milk)

  • all-purpose flour if needed

  • sugar if needed


  1. Lard the meat (prick it with a knife or a big kitchen needle and stuff strips of the bacon fat through the sirloin. If you are using big piece of meat, freeze the fat beforehand; it is easier to get through the whole length), season with salt and pepper, add the spices, diced root vegetables, lemon juice, vinegar and pour melted butter over the meat to seal it. Let it marinate in a fridge overnight.

  2. Add the stock, cover with a lid and braise in the oven at 320 °F (160 °C) until the meat is very soft – you should be able to cut it with a fork. This usually takes 2-4 hours.

  3. Remove the meat and press the vegetables through a fine sieve (you can even use cloth for an extra fine texture). Use a hand blender if the texture is still not very fine and creamy.

  4. Add the cream and bring to boil; add salt, lemon, vinegar or sugar to taste (I don’t use sugar, carrots are usually sweet enough). If the sauce is not thick enough, you can thicken it with a little flour, but hopefully you’ll manage without it.

  5. Cut the sirloin into half-inch thick circles; put these back into sauce to heat them through. Serve with cranberry preserve. Putting a little dollop of whipped cream in the sauce is also quite a traditional way of serving your svíčková.

Recipe for bread dumplings


  • 2 pinches of salt

  • ½ tsp ground mace (and a bit of turmeric if you want to have a tasty-looking yellow tint to the dumplings; the flavor is good too)

  • 2 cups (475 ml) coarse flour (hruba mouka)
    At worst you can mix all purpose flour with semolina at a 1:1 ratio

  • 2 cups (475 ml) semi-coarse flour (polohruba mouka)

  • Approx. 1 cup (235 ml) lukewarm  milk  (more if the dough is dry)

  • 2 tsp sugar

  • 2-3 rolls or buns (the traditional sized ones, they’re about 70g each)

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cube fresh yeast (or the dried yeast equivalent)


  1. First, mix the flours with the salt and spices.

  2. Dissolve the sugar in half the milk, add crumbled yeast and let it grow there a bit, until “islands” of new yeast start to from on the surface. Pour the egg into the flour, then pour in the milk (bit by bit) and yeast, and knead with your hands. Keep adding milk until you have a nice dough that’s not too dry and not be too sticky (though it can be slightly wetter and stickier than your instinct would suggest – you’ll still add the buns that soak up a bit of the milk).

  3. Cut the rolls or buns into a small dice (a little smaller than half an inch cubed). Gently mix the bread into the dough. Then form the dumpling mixture into a roll(s) – a 2-3 inch diameter will give you sufficiently big dumplings after you’ve left the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.

  4. Gently lower the roll into salted boiling water and cook for 16-19 minutes. You want to take it out before the crust gets slimy. Prick with a fork (this prevents it from collapsing after it cools down a bit).  When you’re ready to serve, cut the dumpling into circles 2/3 inches thick – preferably using a floss or cheese wire.

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