It’s not every day that someone who has won an Emmy award is beatified, but with Pope Francis having approved a miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, that will soon be a reality. Sheen was a priest in the Diocese of Peoria and a bishop in New York, but is perhaps best known as the host of the television show Life is Worth Living, which aired in the 1950s and 60s. Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to Sheen’s intercession, paving the way for his beatification.
As an evangelist on television, Sheen shared the truths and teachings of the Catholic faith with millions of viewers each week. Discussing Sheen’s upcoming beatification on The Drew Mariani Show™, Drew illustrated the popularity of Life is Worth Living by sharing a story his father told him.
Drew said, “He would tell me stories about how when Sheen was on television at the time. They’d be in a bar someplace having dinner and the bartender would stop serving and end up putting Sheen on. Everybody sat around the bar and would watch him.”
The miracle attributed to Sheen’s intercession involves the recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy who was born apparently stillborn in September 2010. Engstrom showed no vital signs when medical professionals attempted to revive him, and his parents prayed to Archbishop Sheen to heal their son. Despite going an hour with no signs of life, Engstrom had an unexplained recovery. In March 2014, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, after being advised by a panel of medical experts, unanimously approved the miracle attributed to Sheen.
Msgr. James Kruse, Vicar General for the Diocese of Peoria, was a guest this week on The Drew Mariani Show and said of the miracle, “I had the privilege of serving on the local investigation here in Peoria and, boy, it’s a miracle I’d never write about. A baby, 61 minutes without any vital signs, come back to life.”
Despite the miracle being approved by the Congregation in 2014, there was a delay in Sheen’s cause due to an issue with where his remains would reside. The Diocese of Peoria, where Sheen was ordained a priest, opened the cause for his canonization in 2002. However, Sheen’s body was buried in New York, and there was a dispute over transferring his remains from New York to Peoria.
Sheen’s cause was suspended during the legal proceedings, but was reopened in June when it was determined the remains would, in fact, be transferred to Peoria.
Explaining the speed of Sheen’s beatification announcement so soon after his cause was re-opened, Msgr. Kruse said, “On June 27, his remains were transferred from New York to Peoria, and really even in the midst of that transfer we were having communications with the Vatican, telling them that this was all getting resolved and that the body was being transferred. Bishop Jenky resumed and reopened the cause, and the Congregation of Saints immediately suggested we acknowledge that.”
The purpose of acknowledging miracles, Msgr. Kruse pointed out, is not for the glory of that particular individual. But rather, the miracle of Archbishop Sheen shows that God still does great things in our world, even today. That should motivate all the faithful to petition the Lord for their needs, and ask for the intercession of the holy men and women who have gone before us.
“It shows kind of that age-old wisdom, that God still works miracles,” Msgr. Kruse said. “We have ideas that our faith is kind of locked in the past. And we’re just kind of Johnny-come-late. But this miraculous recovery through this hopefully-soon saint’s intercession just shows us that God is still alive. He’s still doing great things. And we could call on Him for everyday help, and He hasn’t abandoned us, ignored us, or forgotten us.”
A date has not yet been set for Sheen’s beatification. More information and updates can be found at CelebrateSheen.com.
Listen to the full conversation with Monsignor James Kruse below: