Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen & the World Mission Rosary

Artwork by Greg Hildebrandt

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was a universally popular evangelist, radio/TV personality, writer and missionary. He is most known for his television series, “Life is Worth Living” which had a viewing audience of over 30 million people.

 Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was also national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966. In February 1951, he inaugurated a World Mission Rosary during his radio address, The Catholic Hour. “We must pray, and not for ourselves, but for the world,” he exhorted. “To this end, I have designed the World Mission Rosary.” Praying this Rosary, Archbishop Sheen said, would “aid the Holy Father and his Society for the Propagation of the Faith by supplying him with practical support, as well as prayers, for the poor mission territories of the world.”

 Each decade of that World Mission Rosary calls to mind an area where the Church continues her evangelizing mission: green for the forests and grasslands of Africa; blue for the ocean surrounding the islands of the Pacific; white symbolizing Europe, the seat of the Holy Father, shepherd of the world; red calling to mind the fire of faith that brought missionaries to the Americas, and yellow, the morning light of the east, for Asia.  Archbishop Sheen said, “Peace will come only when the hearts of the world have changed. When the World Mission Rosary is completed, one has embraced all continents, all people in prayer.”

Officially opened on September 14, 2002, the cause for canonization of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen made major progress in 2012 when two alleged miracles credited to his intercession were sent to Rome for further investigation.

On June 28, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI declared Archbishop Sheen “Venerable,” clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause.

Download a pamphlet of the World Missions Rosary mysteries, or contact the Diocesan Missions Office for a copy.

 News from the Archbishop Sheen Foundation…
(From the Pontifical Mission Societies)  Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria and President of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, received word on March 6, 2014, that the seven-member board of medical experts who advise the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican unanimously approved a reported miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

The case involved a stillborn baby born in September 2010.  For over an hour the child demonstrated no signs of life as medical professionals attempted every possible life saving procedure, while the child’s parents and loved ones began immediately to seek the intercession of Fulton Sheen.  After 61 minutes the baby was restored to full life and made a full recovery.  The child, now three years old, continues in good health.

This decision affirms that the team of Vatican medical experts can find no natural explanation for the child’s healing.  The case will next be reviewed by a board of theologians.  With their approval the case could move on to the cardinals and bishops who advise the Pope on these matters.  Finally, the miracle would be presented to Pope Francis who would then officially affirm that God performed a miracle through the intercession of Fulton Sheen.  There is no timeline as to when these next steps might  move forward.

“Today is a significant step in the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of our beloved Fulton Sheen, a priest of Peoria and a Son of the Heartland who went on to change the world.  There are many more steps ahead and more prayers are needed.  But today is a good reason to rejoice,” commented Bishop Jenky.

Fulton Sheen was born May 8, 1895 in El Paso, Illinois, outside of Peoria.  His family moved to Peoria so that Fulton and his brothers could attend Catholic school.  He grew up in the parish of the Cathedral of St. Mary where he was an altar server and later ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria.  After advanced studies and service as a parish priest in the city of Peoria, Fulton Sheen was a professor of philosophy and religion at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.  In the 1930s he became a popular radio personality and later a TV pioneer.  His weekly TV program, “Life is Worth Living” eventually reached 30 million viewers and won an Emmy award for outstanding TV program.

From 1950 to 1966, Bishop Sheen was the National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the United States, the Church’s primary missionary apostolate.  In 1966, he was named Bishop of Rochester of New York where he served until his retirement in 1969, when he was named honorary Archbishop by Pope Paul VI.  Fulton Sheen died at the entrance to his private chapel in his New York City apartment on December 9, 1979.

In September 2002, Bishop Jenky officially opened the cause for the beatification and canonization of Fulton Sheen.  For six years, the Sheen Foundation, the official promoter of the Cause, gathered testimony from around the world and reviewed all of Sheen’s writings, before sending their conclusions to the Vatican.  In June 2012, Pope Benedict affirmed the investigation that Sheen had lived a life of heroic virtue and holiness.  Sheen was then titled “Venerable.”

Pending further review by the theologians and the cardinals who advise the Pope through the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, should Pope Francis validate this proposed miracle, Sheen could then be declared “Blessed” in a ceremony that could be celebrated in Peoria, Sheen’s hometown.  Upon the Holy Father signing the decree for the beatification, an additional miracle would lead to the Canonization of Archbishop Sheen, in which he would be declared a “Saint.”

Prayer to Move the Church to Proclaim Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen a Saint

Heavenly Father, source of all good and all holiness, You reward those who love and serve You faithfully as Your sons and daughters. If it pleases You, I ask You to glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He touched countless lives by his ministry of evangelization, especially through the media. His clear and courageous teachings about Jesus and the truths of the Catholic Church seemed to possess a special power of the Holy Spirit that strengthened the faithful and inspired many converts to embrace the faith. He supported the needs of missionaries all over the world through his work in the National Office for the Propagation of the Faith. He also labored zealously for the renewal of the priesthood by preaching retreats to his brother priests and by encouraging them with the good example of his daily Eucharistic Holy Hour. His deep personal love of Our Lady moved many others to go to Jesus through His Mother. Heavenly Father, if it be according to Your Divine Will, I ask you to move Your Church to glorify Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. I ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen

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