Thursday, March 22, 2012


This past year I got the Community a DVD set- Servant of All,  about the life of
the SERVANT of GOD ARCHBISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN.  I was deeply moved by this very holy,  very bright man.

For 20 years he hosted the night-time radio program The Catholic Hour (1930-1950) before moving to television and hosting the program Life is Worth Living  reaching as many as 10 million viewers. I was young at the time but I remember my non-Catholic mother watching it on a regular basis (1952-1957).  I remember him sweeping in with that magnificent "cape". Having grown up near Hollywood, I suppose I just thought it was "show-business". What I did not understand was that when it came to authoritative moral teaching, Catholics and non-Catholics alike listened to Msgr. Sheen because he was someone they could trust to "tell it like it is."  His show was up against Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra, yet at times he out-paced them drawing larger audiences. Twice he won an Emmy Award for Most Outstanding Television Personality, the only religious person to ever do so. When he won the Award in 1952 he said: "I feel it is time I pay tribute to my four writers-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

Archbishop Sheen with Bl. Pope John Paul II

He was born Peter John Sheen in 1895 in El Paso, Ill. and ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria in 1919. Due to his brilliant mind he soon rose in the ranks of the Church as one of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century. But he never lost his love of the poor and interacted with them often. It is said he lived simply and gave away all he had. He was director of the The Society for the Propagation of the Faith (to serve the missions). All Catholic school children of my era saved their pennies for the children in mission lands.

Archbishop Sheen died December 9, 1979. He had a great devotion to the Mother of God, and it seems fitting that she would take him between her two great American feasts: The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12). 

Archbishop Sheen had the ability to relate complicated topics with great insight and humor that appealed to everyone, from the theological scholar to the uneducated and the non-Catholic. His words are still powerful and inspiring today, continuing to change the lives of thousands all over the world. He wrote 66 books, covering varied topics, many of which are still in print today. Many of his homilies, talks, retreats, and programs have been put on tape and are readily available. We could have no better patron saint of our 21st Century multi-media!

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