Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was one of the most prolific Catholic writers and televangelists of the 20th century. His cause for beatification is currently being vetted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Sheen was born May 8, 1895, in El Paso, Illinois, and was raised and educated in the Roman Catholic faith. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois, on Sept. 20, 1919. Following his ordination, Sheen moved overseas to further his education, and earned a doctorate in Philosophy from The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium in 1923.
Upon returning to America, after varied and extensive work throughout Europe, Sheen continued to preach, as well as teach theology and philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Sheen was a popular professor and wrote the first of his 73 books in 1925. In 1930, he began a weekly NBC Sunday night radio broadcast, “The Catholic Hour.” On February 12, 1952, he began a weekly television program titled “Life Is Worth Living.” In 1952, Sheen won an Emmy Award for his efforts, accepting the acknowledgment by saying, “I feel it is time I pay tribute to my four writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”
In 1958, Sheen became national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, serving for eight years before being appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, New York, on Oct. 26, 1966. On October 15, 1969, one month after celebrating his 50th anniversary as a priest, Sheen resigned from his position and was then appointed Archbishop of the titular see of Newport, Wales, by Pope Paul VI. On Oct. 2, 1979, two months before Sheen’s death, Pope John Paul II visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and embraced Sheen, saying, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church.” Bishop Sheen’s autobiography, “Treasure in Clay,” continues to inspire Catholics even to this day, revealing a humble, holy and gifted man whom God chose for this time and place to boldly proclaim the Gospel.