missions, retreats, 40-hour devotions, and novenas in almost all of the United States and during two longer missions in Czechoslovakia.
Father Neuzil was instrumental in establishing the now-flourishing Benedictine Abby Press; he founded a weekly for Czech-speaking children, Pritel Ditek (Children's Friend),in 1889. Many adults who attended St. Wenceslaus school remember receiving and reading this periodical. Father Neuzil himself did most of the work for the first issue, published at Christmas. Ffe wrote, edited, set type, printed, trimmed, stapled, wrapped, addressed and mailed the issues. In 1893 he founded Katolik (The Catholic), a bi-weekly Czech-language newspaper. Then in 1894 the abbey began publishing Narod a Czech-language daily paper. Also, under Father Neuzil’s direction, many leaflets and devotional booklets and books were published.
Father Neuzil was pastor of St. Procopius Parish and helped found 6 Chicago-area churches as well as a convent, a home for the aged, an abbey and an orphanage. Father Neuzil was named Prior of his community in 1899. He constantly advocated vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In 1896 Father Neuzil and another monk bought land for a new abbey in Lisle, IL after the grounds in Chicago grew too crowded. The first monastery in Lisle was a small stone building. The abbey was officially transferred in 1914. Father Neuzil was also the prime mover in having the first section of St. Procopius College constructed in 1901. In 1915 he founded a seminary where he was instructor and rector for 7 years.
In addition to his many other interests Father Neuzil was concerned with Catholic immigrants of the Russian Orthodox church. Following is what one of his colleagues wrote:
“Prompted by his tireless missionary zeal and determined to do for the Orthodox Russians in America what he did for the Czech, at age 50 he began studying the Russian language and the Byzantine Rite under the tutorship of clergy in Chicago. On 21 Mar 1918 he surprised the monastic chapter by announcing that he was ready to teach Russian, briefly described the sore need for Byzantine Rite priests, and asked... to have the Russian language introduced into the college curriculum as an optional subject. The chapter approved his request. Prior Procopius, with youthful zeal, took up this new missionary venture. He opened the doors of the college, the seminary, and the abbey to youths of the Byzantine Rite, many of whom became priests and also monks of our community. He compiled a catechism and translated the Rule of St. Benedict into Russian and for some time he edited a monthly bilingual publication...in English and Russian. To attract the attention of the Russian Orthodox, he organized services in the Byzantine Rite for them in strategic localities of Chicago.’’
For many years he was Apostolic Visitor of all the Byzantine Rite convents of the Basilican nuns in America, and was appointed by Pope Pius XI, General Secretary of the Russian Apostate in May 1934. In order to create interest in the Russian Apostate among the religious of St. Procopius Abbey, he had the younger members attend classes in Byzantine Chant, introduced a Byzantine rite mass in the chapel and held a holy hour for church unity once a week. As Abbot he organized and enthusiastically promoted for church unity days in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945...in preparation for a Unionist Congress that was held in the abbey in 1956.
In 1919, by invitation of the National Catholic War Council and the National Alliance of Czech Catholics, Father Neuzil led a mission to the new Republic of Czechoslovakia, preaching throughout the country. He also encouraged the building of, and solicited funds for, the Nepomucenum, a Czech seminary in Rome. Because of his work Father Neuzil was awarded an honor of the cross, Pro Ecclesia et Pontificate by Pope Pius XI in 1928, and 10 years later on his golden jubilee of priesthood, the privilege of Cappa Magna. When the abbey was asked to provide missionaries for the founding of a Benedictine community in China in 1936, Father Neuzil, his missionary zeal still intact, was the first to volunteer to serve there. When he was 75, in 1937, Father Neuzil was elected Abbot of his chapter. As such he also became the third president of St. Procopius College.
One of Father Neuzil’s last projects before his death was to resuscitate the evacuated St. Wenceslaus Abbey in Broumov, Czechoslovakia. He did this by sending 4 monks from his abbey to work there. Rt. Rev. Procopius Neuzil died in Chicago 1 Dec 1946 and is buried in the St. Procopius Abbey Cemetery in Lisle, IL.
Neuzil, Cyril and Rebecca (Pecinovsky)
(Cyril & Rebecca Neuzil)
Cyril and Rebecca Neuzil and their children.
Left to right: Susan, Steven, Lorna, Craig and Cathy. May 27, 1995
Cyril John Neuzil was born to John Frank and Eleanora (Novak) Neuzil on the farm that his greatgrandfather Jan Neuzil bought in 1875 when he came to this country from Czechoslovakia. The farm is located 3 1/2 miles southwest of Spillville in Sumner Twp., Section 26, in Winneshiek Co. Cyril was the youngest of 7 children. He had 4 brothers and 2 sisters: Frank, August, Lewis, Anthony, Eleanor and Justina. Cyril attended grade school in Spillville, Protivin and country school and graduated from high school in Calmar. Cyril has lived all his life on the Neuzil farm. His dad died when Cyril was 14 years
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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021