Help Archbishop Fulton Sheen Become a Saint
By now you probably know of my love for Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He's one of my great heroes and here are just some of my posts on him:
- Interview with Msgr. Richard Soseman, Judge for the Cause of Bishop Sheen
- How to Give a Talk Like Fulton Sheen
- Feast of Servant of God Fulton Sheen
- "Mother Teresa's hand in my left, Fulton Sheen's hand in my right..."
- Video of my mentor discussing archbishop Fulton Sheen
Right now, Sheen is in the middle of his cause for canonization, which will hopefully result in him being named a saint--the first male, American-born saint. Vatican officials are sifting through a mountain of writings, letters, testimonies, and interviews to determine whether Sheen meets the criteria for sainthood, which also includes looking for miracles.
A main requirement for sainthood is that two miracles be attributed to your intercession--one for beatification (making you a Blessed), and another for canonization (making you a Saint). Several miracles have purportedly been attributed to Sheen. However a recent one in Sheen's own homeland of Illinois is building significant buzz.
In 2010, Bonnie and Travis Engstrom were excited to welcome their new boy into the world. Their whole pregnancy had been smooth and the labor was going well. But right before birth they hit a snag. Bonnie's umbilical cord developed a knot and as it tightened, it stopped all blood flow.
By the time little James Fulton was born, he was lifeless.
The couple was shocked and afraid and immediately began to pray. Bonnie had been asking for Archbishop Sheen's intercession throughout the pregnancy, and turned to him again during this crisis. She asked Sheen for his prayers and help in healing her son.
And then the unexpected happened.
"CPR was administered, 911 was called, James was transported to a hospital, and after 61 minutes of being without a pulse—just as the doctors were prepared to call time of death—my son came back to life. The doctors believed there would be massive organ damage from the lack of oxygen which meant James would die very soon. When he didn't die they believed he would be a "vegetable". And then when it was clear that he wouldn't be dependent on machines, they warned us that he would be severely disabled.
From the very beginning and throughout it all, my husband, family, friends, and I asked for a miraculous full restoration through the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, for whom we had named our son."
And the Archbishop interceded magnificently. James Fulton continued to recover and develop.
"By the time he was a few days old his kidneys, liver, and colon were all working. By a week he was breathing without any assistance. A follow-up MRI showed no more brain damage. Now he rolls over, crawls, cruises, and will walk soon. He eats Cheerios, picking them up with his thumb and pointer finger. He squeals with laughter, plays with blocks, steals toys from his older siblings, and developmentally has scored in the normal range.
My family and I believe that God brought James back from the dead and healed his body. We believe that He did this through the intercession of Archbishop Sheen. We believe that God did this for the same reason that he allowed Lazarus to die: "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.""
James' healing isn't just a delightful anecdote, however. It's the spark of something much bigger. The miracle has launched Sheen into the public limelight and has built huge momentum for his cause.
This energy is sorely needed, for the sainthood process is often long and tedious. It usually takes years and lots of money, usually provided by private individuals and groups, to lift someone to sainthood. In Sheen's case, that group is the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation which promotes Sheen's work and cause.
But in order for Sheen's cause to continue--in order for him to become a Saint--they need our help. They're asking for two things:
1. Prayer. Even short, simple prayers to God, asking him to guide his Church in this process of canonization would be huge. Also, consider praying for Sheen's intercession in your own life. The cause still needs documented miracles attributed to Sheen in order for it to progress and you can help make that happen. If you have a desperate situation in your own life, or the life of a friend or family member, consider asking Archbishop Sheen for help.
Here's a sample prayer that would take less than a minute to pray:
"Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit.
If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession (mention your request here)
I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen."
2. Donations. It costs a lot of money to canonize someone. Several people and thousands of documents are involved and as mentioned, the process can take years. So the Sheen Foundation can use all the help it can get. Consider donating to the Foundation--even something small like $5, $10, or $20--and help Sheen's cause move forward.
You can also purchase the compelling DVD film titled, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: A Servant of All. It features interviews with Sheen's friends and family members, and stories from admirers like Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Regis Philbin. Proceeds from the film go directly to the cause, so you get a great movie and help at the same time.
In The Church and New Media book, I highlighted Sheen's cause as the first in history to truly harness new media:
"Sheen’s campaign has used the full gamut of new media tools to get the message out: a website, a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account were created, each providing updates on Sheen’s cause for canonization along with daily quotes."
Archbishop Sheen used the new media of his day, television and radio. Now it's time to use ours, the Internet and social media, to get his message out.
However you can help, whether through prayer, donations, or spreading the word, we need to draw more people to this holy priest. Perhaps the greatest evangelist of the twentieth century, his example and intercession still hold great power.