The Diocese of Peoria is continuing to promote the cause for beatification of Ven. Fulton Sheen, almost 18 months after his planned beatification Mass was abruptly canceled. 

“We continue to promote the cause for both his beatification and canonization,” said Bishop Louis Tylka at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria, Illinois, on May 8. Tylka was celebrating a Mass commemorating Sheen’s birthday. 

The bishop added that “so much more so” is the diocese promoting Sheen’s cause to further “the preaching and sharing of the Gospel.”

Bishop Tylka is coadjutor bishop of the Peoria diocese, and will become the diocese’s ninth bishop once current Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC, retires in March 2022 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Born in El Paso, Illinois on May 8, 1895, Peter John Sheen was ordained a priest of the Peoria diocese on Sept. 20, 1919. He was called “Fulton” in honor of his mother’s maiden name.

On June 11, 1951, Sheen was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York. He remained in that post until 1966, when he was named the Bishop of Rochester until his retirement in 1969 at the age of 74. 

In 1969, Sheen was given the title of Archbishop of the titular see of Newport, Wales, and was known as “Archbishop Fulton Sheen.” 

Tylka called Sheen a “trailblazer” due to his Emmy-winning television show “Life is Worth Living.” The show aired on television from 1952 until 1957. 

Sheen “reached millions of people because of [the show],” says Tylka. “He was so far ahead of his time in that reality that we take for granted today.” 

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Sheen died on Dec. 9, 1979. In 2002, his cause for canonization was opened, and he was declared venerable in 2012. Seven years later, Pope Francis approved of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Sheen, and his beatification was scheduled for Dec. 21, 2019. 

However, two-and-a-half weeks prior to the scheduled beatification, the event was canceled at the request of the Bishop of Rochester. 

“With deep regret, Bishop Daniel Jenky, C.S.C, Bishop of Peoria, announces that he has been informed by the Holy See that the beatification of Fulton Sheen will be postponed,” a Dec. 3, 2019 press release from the Peoria diocese stated. 

“Bishop Jenky is deeply saddened by this decision,” said the press release. “In particular, Bishop Jenky is even more concerned for the many faithful who are devoted to Sheen and who will be affected by this news.” 

The bishop of Rochester reportedly requested the delay of Sheen’s beatification due to concerns that he could be named in the final report of an ongoing investigation into clergy sex abuse in New York. The state attorney general’s office is conducting an ongoing investigation into New York’s bishops and dioceses.

Throughout his life, Sheen embraced the media as a means of evangelization. He launched “The Catholic Hour,” a radio show on NBC Radio, in 1930. The show ran for 22 years. 

“Life is Worth Living” aired nationally from 1952 until 1957, and won the Emmy for “Most Outstanding Personality” in 1953. He received two other Emmy nominations during his show’s run. 

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