Basil the Great. Feast Day January 2nd. Basil was born in to a pious, wealthy and well respected family in Caesarea Mazaca, modern day Turkey in 329. He was very well educated having studied at the schools of Caesarea ,Athens and Constantinople where he encountered fellow student St Gregory of Nazianzus. Basil studied law and rhetoric to begin with but his life completely changed after he encountered Eustathius of Sebaste a Charismatic and ascetic Bishop ,quickly he was baptised and devoted his life to God establishing along with his brother and several like minded disciples an ascetic monastic settlement on his family estate near Annesi in 358. In 363 he was appointed Bishop of Caesarea, an avid supporter of the Nicene creed he greatly opposed heretical theories which developed during the early Church especially Arianism. His ability to balance his theological convictions with his political connections made Basil a powerful advocate. He was an eloquent preacher and great crowds gathered to here his homilies. Regarded as a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church he wrote many great theological works and letters his most prominent was probably his treatise on the Holy Spirit but he also provided great written guidelines for a monastic life still regarded by the Catholic Church today. Basil is renown as the Patriarch of Eastern monks due to his reformation work and great influence. He also devoted a great time to helping the sick and poor, establishing hospitals, hospices and soup kitchens. He died in 379 aged 49 and is the Patron Saint of Russia.
Saint Manuel Gonzalez Garcia.Feast Day January 4th. Manuel was born in 1877 in Seville in Spain and grew up in an atmosphere of prayer and holiness which drew him in to the life of the priesthood. In 1901 he was ordained as a priest and throughout his life his main mission was to encourage poeple to spend time with Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament adoring his Euchaistic heart. Christ had revealed to him how his heart thirsted for souls to come to him through the Holy Eucharist and to spend time in Adoration at the Tabernacle. Manuel holds a special place in the heart of the Religious of Malaga where he was appointed Bishop in 1920. Here due to the shortage of priests he built a seminary an staffed it with exemplary staff,providing Catechesis and schools for people in the diocese.Manuel helped to establish comunities which gave special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist including , “The Congregation of the Eucharistic Missionaries”, “The Disciples of John” and ” The Children of Redemption”.In 1935 he was appointed Bishop of Palencia after returning form exile in Gibralter and Madrid where he had been sent to escape the backlash of the republic in Spain. He composed many books on the Holy Eucharist ,prayer and the priesthood. He died a natural death in Palencia in 1940 and was canonized by Pope Francis in October 2016.
Saint John Neumann. Feast Day January 5th. John was born in 1811 in Prachtice in Bohemia now part of the Czech Republic. He studied Theology at the Charles University in Prague and was an excellent scholar. He greatly desired to enter the priesthood but the Bishop of Bohemia refused to ordain him as their was an over abundance of priests in his country. Therefore John travelled to the United States in 1836 arriving in New York with only one dollar in his pocket.Due to the great shortage of priests there and the growing immigrant population from Europe he was ordained within three weeks . John was a master of various foreign languages and was sent to minister to a German immigrant population in the country side in the Buffalo area where he travelled on horseback teaching the Catechism, he also managed to acquire American citizen ship during this time. John felt isolated in the country so in 1840 he joined the Redemptorist movement in Pitts burg , a religious congregation dedicated to parish and foreign missions . He went to work with immigrants in Maryland as a pastor where he brought social reform and religious education to new arrivals to the New World who did not speak English. Not long after he was made Superior of all the Redemptorists in the united States. In 1852 he was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia ,here he established 50 Churches and built numerous schools and several orphanages. John also actively invited religious institutes to establish new houses within the diocese of Philadelphia to provide necessary social and educational services. He died aged 48 on a street in Philadelphia in 1860.He was the first American man and bishop to be canonised as a Saint in 1977 by Pope Paul VI.