By Mel Mantanona
If you’ve been keeping up with recent headlines lately, you would’ve probably heard about the remains of a famous archbishop being moved from New York to Illinois and his case for sainthood reopened. This archbishop is the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a beloved among many. After three years of civil litigation over his remains, he was transferred back home to Peoria, Illinois. His Cause for Beatification is now resumed and an alleged miracle attributed to him will be presented for authentication by Pope Francis. The miracle is the healing of an infant who was medically diagnosed to be a stillborn. Who is this archbishop and why is his transfer making headlines?
Fulton J. Sheen was born on May 8, 1895 to a Catholic family of farmers in Illinois. When he was 8 years old, he assisted at Mass as an altar boy for Bishop John L. Spalding. After dropping a wine cruet and shattering it, the bishop comforted a scared Fulton by telling him he would one day study in Belgium and will one day “be just as I am.”
After college, he joined the seminary and was ordained when he was 24. He ended up continuing his studies at Louvain, Belgium before returning to the United States and teaching at The Catholic University of America for the next 23 years. He was an excellent preacher and gained an early following while teaching at the university. He entered into broadcasting in 1926 and slowly started to contribute recorded series of his sermons.
For the next 30 years, he took the world by storm with his weekly talks on Catholic teaching, capturing the attention of many near and far on a variety of topics ranging from the Gospel to social issues of the time. He traveled all over the country, delivering messages of faith and the church so eloquently that he became one of the most influential Catholics of his time. His television series, “Life is Worth Living,” gained a whopping 30 million viewers, the most-viewed religious serious in television and won an Emmy Award.
Not only was he a great TV personality but also an author. Fulton wrote many books that have touched the soul of many. Some of his most notable works include “Life of Christ,” “World’s First Love,” and many more. With his popularity, he was able to help raise millions of dollars for many different charities and missions. He attributes all his success to God and through the grace of a daily holy hour that he practiced from his ordination up until his death.
The venerable archbishop died on December 9, 1979. You can catch the archbishop’s television programs on YouTube and on local radio, 90.9 FM KOLG, daily at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Please pray for his canonization.
Information and photo from Catholic University of America and the New York Times