.- The cause for sainthood for the most popular TV bishop in the United States – whose program led many to God – got a significant push yesterday.
Hundreds gathered for a memorial mass for Archbishop Fulton Sheen at News York’s St. Patrick’s cathedral on the 25th anniversary of his death. According to a report in the New York Times, the people gathered hoping to jump-start the process that will lead to Archbishop Sheen’s canonization.
"It's like a kickoff, so to speak, with a liturgy," Msgr. John E. Kozar, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, told the Times. "It's a public announcement in the most fitting way."
Archbishop Sheen became a household name with his Emmy Award-winning half-hour program, "Life is Worth Living." He drew 25 million viewers of all faiths every week, getting higher ratings than Milton Berle, then host of one of one of the most popular TV shows at the time.
But he was more than a TV personality. His mix solid theology, simple wisdom, persuasive language and Irish sense of humor, won many converts to Catholicism, including Henry Ford II.
Archbishop Sheen died in 1979 in Manhattan at the age of 84. The Times reported that 25 years later Fr. Andrew Apostoli, a Franciscan friar the archbishop had inspired as a boy, began the push for his canonization.
In 2002, the Vatican declared Archbishop Sheen a Servant of God. This allows his supporters to prepare and submit a detailed report about his life, teachings and writings, and at least two miracles attributed to him.
Joan Cunningham, 77, a niece of the archbishop who lives in Yonkers, told the Times that the recovery of a sick boy might be one.