The Cause for sainthood of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, which was officially opened in the United States on 9 December 1999, has since gained momentum. Interest in this process has been fostered in Australia by the Fulton J. Sheen Society Inc, established in Perth, Western Australia, in August 1999. The Society has been active in promoting Archbishop Sheen's life and legacy.
This outline of progress in the Archbishop's Cause is provided by Msgr Stanley Deptula, Executive Director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation and Vice-Chancellor of the Peoria Diocese, Illinois.
The past year has been a remarkable time in the Cause for Beatification and Canonisation of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I could never have known what excitement God had in store for 2011.
Dr Andrea Ambrosi, Postulator of the Archbishop's Cause, completed the two-volume Postio Super Virtutibus, which Bishop Daniel R. Jenky (of Peoria) and I had the privilege of presenting personally to Pope Benedict XVI on 25 May 2011.
This is the official documentation outlining the rationale for Fulton Sheen to be declared a blessed and a saint of the Catholic Church. Along with the positio we submitted a special book made up of letters from over 100 cardinals, archbishops and bishops from around the world asking the Pope to move the Cause forward.
One cardinal and two archbishops were from Australia and we acquired these letters with the help of the Fulton J. Sheen Society in Australia.
With unprecedented speed, the theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints reviewed and unanimously approved the positio in October and now it is in the hands of the bishops of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. If approved by these bishops and then the Pope, Fulton Sheen would be declared Venerable.
Besides the investigation into a person's life, writings and spiritual legacy, we ask God to manifest His will by performing a miracle through the intercession of the potential "saint." Working in the foundation has been a true blessing to my priesthood as I have had a chance to hear many stories from people who believe Archbishop Sheen has interceded for them in their lives.
On 11 December 2011, we celebrated a Mass during which we had a ceremony closing the Diocese of Peoria's inquiry into an alleged miraculous healing through the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. During this ceremony Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, affixed wax seals on the boxes containing evidence gathered by the investigative tribunal. Bishop Jenky said during the ceremony, "May God, who has begun this great work, bring it to fulfillment."
The paperwork is now in Rome where the Congregation for the Causes of Saints will study the evidence. If approved as a miracle by the Congregation and then the Pope, Archbishop Fulton Sheen would be Beatified. These are exciting times not just for the Church in America but throughout the world as Sheen touched lives in many countries while travelling for the missions.
The case we just sent in involved a baby who was stillborn and without a pulse for the first 61 minutes of his life and then when the doctors were ready to call the time of death his little heart started beating. It is an amazing story and the parents believe their child is alive and well because of a healing by Christ through Fulton Sheen's intercession.
Both parents decided that if the baby was a boy they would use Fulton as his middle name. When the baby was stillborn at home the father made an emergency baptism while waiting for the ambulance and named him James Fulton. Now the child is well over one-year-old and is medication free and functioning normally.
Of course as a Foundation we have other responsibilities besides the actual canonisation. It is also our goal to bring others closer to Christ through Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Through the Grace of God and the generosity of our donors we have been able to accomplish quite a bit.
In 2010 we gave 5,000 copies of A Priest is Not His Own books by Fulton Sheen to seminarians. We have heard from many of them how much this book has helped them. Many have learned the importance of a daily holy hour through this book.
We also made a movie called "Archbishop Fulton Sheen Servant of All", which takes us through the life of Sheen from birth until death. Ignatius Press prominently promoted our film in time for holiday gift-giving.
And most recently, EWTN sponsored what I call "Sheen Week" with the worldwide premier of our documentary film and other special promotions, including programs featuring Fr Andrew Apostoli.
I can attest that based on the moving and seemingly countless letters and emails we receive, Fulton Sheen continues to reach out to converts, help young men and women to discover their vocations, and inspire many devout Catholics to deepen their love for Christ and His Blessed Mother.
As Sheen was always a pioneer in technology, evangelising to millions through his radio and television shows, we feel it is important that we evangelise through as many means as possible. Besides our web page (www. archbishopsheencause.org) we also have a blog and are on Twitter, You tube, and Facebook. This helps us to stay in contact with friends of Sheen all over the world.
Archbishop Sheen travelled the world to help the poor and not only to introduce Christ to others but to be Christ for others. He always gave what he got. He visited lepers, the sick, the imprisoned and the poor. He tried to give comfort to everyone he met. As we believe Fulton Sheen was a wonderful priest, we think he is exactly the saint our Church needs today.
Whatever excitement 2012 promises, may everything we do be to the Glory of God and the honour of His saints.