Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prelates Join the Cause of Beatification for Archbishop Sheen


The Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation has announced that twelve archbishops and bishops have joined its Episcopal Board of Advisors for the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification. The foundation told CNA on Monday that the famous archbishop's cause is progressing "quite well."

The new members include Cardinal William Baum, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C; Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York City; Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles; Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C.; Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston; and Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia.Other new members include Bishop of Rockford, Illinois Thomas G. Doran; Bishop of Springfield, Illinois George J. Lucas; Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida Robert N. Lynch; Bishop of Joliet, Illinois J. Peter Sartain; and Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey Arthur J. Serratelli. Click here to read the entire story.

It was my privilege to have known Archbishop Sheen. When I was a child he would visit our parish regularly and I would often serve Mass for him. In those days, of course, the Masses were in Latin and ordinarily there was no preaching during the week — preaching was on Sunday — and then the lessons were in Latin. However, when Archbishop Sheen was at the parish during the week, the church would be standing room only. He would preach every day of the week, which was very, very unusual at the time.

Later on, in 1975, I organized a preaching seminar for the Holy Year at Catholic University, in the Hartke Theater and we had about 600 priests come to it. The two speakers I had invited were Father Avery Dulles and Archbishop Fulton Sheen and, of course, they were both spectacular. Archbishop Sheen, at that time, must have been in his 80s, but he had not changed, he looked like he always did on television and was still playing tennis everyday.

The only thing that shocked me, having not seen him since I was a child, was how short he was! But, he was a huge personality and a very important figure in the history of the United States.

No one did as much to break down prejudice against the Catholic Church as Fulton Sheen. I always say that John F. Kennedy could never have been elected president of the United States had it not been for the television program and radio programs of Archbishop Sheen.

He made thousands of converts during his life by his preaching. Of course, his main job was supporting the missions as head of the Propagation of the Faith. He did an extraordinary job at that.

Archbishop Sheen was a very holy priest, and I think that his role in the history of the Church in the United States was a very important one. It would be wonderful to see him elevated to the altars.

The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation’s web site is located at http://www.archbishopsheencause.org/.

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