Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), a great figure in the Catholic Church of America, has been described as “a voice crying out on the airwaves — a prophet for our times.” His Cause for Canonization is underway.
Back in the early days of television, Fulton Sheen had a show on the Dumont Television Network (later ABC) called: “Life Is Worth Living.” It began as a “filler” show, to meet a requirement for religious programming, but went on to outperform the Milton Berle Show and earned an Emmy, as the Best Show in 1952.
On May 11, at the Church of St. Agnes in NYC, The Most Reverend Timothy Dolan Archbishop of New York gave his blessing to a traveling multimedia installation of memorabilia connected with Fulton Sheen’s life.
In his remarks, Archbishop Dolan said that Sheen was a source of unity — acting as a bridge — between “what was best in America and best in the Catholic Church.”
Dolan shared an anecdote that while he was attending the Seminary in Rome, he met Fulton Sheen — who had come to Rome for a visit with Pope Paul VI. As the story goes, the Pope said to Sheen that one day he would have a high place in heaven. Sheen then asked the Pope if he would say it “infallibly?”
Also on hand was Joan Sheen Cunningham, a neice of Fulton Sheen, who traveled and worked with “Uncle Fultie,” as he was known. She said that Fulton would tell her to “throw her crumbs on the water and they will come back as cake.”
As a sign of how respected and beloved Fulton Sheen had become, in 1969 the Friars Club invited him to participate in a roast of Milton Berle — “Uncle Miltie.” It was a night to remember. Fulton Sheen had the best lines.
In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited New York and met with Archbishop Fulton Sheen. The Pope said to Sheen “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have been a faithful Son of the Church.” Two weeks later Futon Sheen passed.
“Prayer is helplessness casting itself on power, infirmity leaning on strength, misery reaching to mercy, and a prisoner clamoring for refief.” Fulton Sheen
The exhibition runs through June 26, 2011. For exhibit hours, visit www.stagneschurchnyc.org