Fulton J. Sheen was born Peter John Sheen on May 8,1895 in El Paso, Illinois. He was the oldest of four sons. The son of Newton and Delia Sheen. His first role in the Catholic Church was when he served as an Altar boy in St. Mary’s Cathedral. He was educated at Spalding Institute in Peoria, St. Viator College in Bourbannais, Illinois, and attended Saint Paul Seminary in Minnesota where he was ordained a priest on September 20,1919. He also attended Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. His first pastor assignment was at St. Patrick’s Church, Soho Square in London and teaching theology at St. Edmund’s College in Ware at the same time. In 1926, Bishop Edmund Dunne of Peoria, Illinois asked him to be pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Peoria. After nine months, Dunne returned him to Catholic University, where he taught philosophy at Catholic University until 1950. It was around this time in 1930, that Fulton Sheen began his media career with the radio program, “The Catholic Hour”. The radio show lasted until 1950. During his radio program, he referred to Adolf Hitler as an example of the “Anti-Christ”. On June 11,1951, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York, New York by Pope Pius XII. At the same time, he began a weekly television program called “Life is Worth Living”. The show reached 30 million people for an audience. A staunch anti-Communist, he also condemned Joseph Stalin and his regime. The show lasted until 1957. It was also around this time that he had a falling out with New York Archbishop Francis Cardinal Spellman. The dispute had to with money being collected from donations related to powdered milk. Sheen felt unwelcomed in the Archdiocese of New York and in 1966, he became Bishop of Rochester, New York. Despite the falling out, Sheen continued to speak positive of Spellman. In 1961, he began a new program, “The Fulton Sheen Hour”. The show lasted until 1968. He served as Bishop of Rochester until 1969. A staunch opponent of abortion, he strongly opposed the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade and wrote a prayer against abortion. Throughout his lifetime, he wrote 73 books. He was also instrumental in bringing many people to the Catholic faith. On October 2,1979, Pope John Paul II visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, embraced Sheen and said, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church.” On December 9,1979, he died his private chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. He was 84 years old. He is currently in the process of beatification by the Catholic Church.
Fulton J. Sheen: Life Is Worth Living