If I was to pick an individual who’s writing and talks have impacted my life and current ministry, it would be that of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. In the mid-nineties, I began listening to his Lenten Retreat Sermons. Next was reading his Magnum Opus, Life of Christ. His eloquence and clarity is phenomenal and all is writings accessible. He is the perfect blend of humor, truth and Thomism. In fact, my wife and I use his short meditations, The Seven Last Words and Characters of the Passion for our reading on Good Friday every year. The funny thing is that we just switch each year – don’t even bother to try something new.
Last night I had the privileged of participate in a documentary screening of his life. The event was hosted by Fr. Specht at Holy Spirit parish who is a devout disciple of Archbishop Sheen. My two oldest joined me for the viewing and thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition, one of Bishop Sheen’s cousins was able to join us and answer questions about him. If you are a DRE, Youth Minister or work in Parish formation, I highly encourage hosting a viewing at your parish of this documentary.
I must recommend the documentary produced by the Fulton Sheen Foundation that is committed to making:
known the life, works and thoughts of Archbishop Sheen and to lead others to a deeper relationship with God and His church through the Archbishop’s example and intercessions. The Foundation, based in Sheen’s home Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, works to advance the Cause for the Canonization of Archbishop Sheen according to the process of the Catholic Church. (Source: Foundation Web site)
Here are a few fast facts that I did not know about Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
- His first name is Peter not Fulton.
- Bishop Spalding (Diocese of Peoria) told Sheen when he was an eight year old altar server to go home and tell his parents that one day he would be school at the Catholic University of Leuven (same institution Spalding studied at) and that he would be a Bishop.
- Blessed Mother Teresa always traveled with a copy of Sheen’s Life of Christ with her when and wherever she traveled. In fact, she made sure her order read the book during Lent each year.
- Blessed Pope John Paul II learned English using Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s television series.
- He is the only Catholic clerical personality to ever receive an Emmy. Upon reception, he thanked his writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Never heard him speak? Here is a sample: