Fulton J. Sheen, dubbed “a prophet of the times” by Pope Pius XII, dedicated his entire life to Catholicism. He was one of the most prominent individuals of the twentieth century, and he was instrumental in spreading the Christian message. This American Catholic preacher and pastor was the first to be awarded the Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy. Sheen was a prolific writer who produced over 73 novels as well as numerous editorials and pieces for a variety of respected journals. With his hugely famous radio show, ‘The Catholic Hour,’ he dominated the airwaves, and later went on to host the TV shows ‘Life is Worth Living’ and ‘The Fulton Sheen Program.’ He has also received an Emmy Award. He is now known as the Venerable Servant of God, a title bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI on him. He is well-known for his televised preaching, which drew an incredible number of people, including presidents, ordinary men, children, and women from various walks of life. As a result, he is regarded as one of the earliest televangelists.
Childhood and Adolescence
He was born Peter John Sheen to Newton and Delia Sheen in El Paso, Illinois. He was the oldest of three brothers and sisters. Later, he was baptized as Peter John Sheen. For the first time in his life, he participated in a church activity when his family moved to Peoria, Illinois. At St. Mary’s Cathedral, he was assigned the job of altar boy. He went to the Spalding Institute in Peoria, where he graduated as valedictorian of his high school class in 1913. He went on to St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, Illinois, then Saint Paul Seminary in Minnesota after that.
He earned his ordination on September 20, 1919. He then went on to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. to further his study. He graduated from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium with a degree in philosophy in 1923. He was the first American to receive the Cardinal Mercier award for his philosophical work, which he received there. He continued his studies and received a Sacred Theology Doctorate from the Pontificium Collegium Internationale Angelicum in 1924. This later became the Angelicum of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Later Years of Fulton J. Sheen
He worked as an assistant pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in London’s Soho Square. He was also teaching theology at St. Edmund’s College in Ware at the time. He released his work, ‘God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy,’ in 1925, which was a critical study in the light of Saint Thomas’ philosophy. Bishop Edmund Dunne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, sent him to St. Patrick’s Parish in 1926. He began teaching philosophy at Catholic University after nine months.
He gave a discussion at the National Catholic Educational Association in 1929, emphasizing the importance of education for the Catholic Renaissance in the United States. In 1930, he launched ‘The Catholic Hour,’ a weekly radio program that aired every Sunday night. He once referred to Adolf Hitler as the “anti-Christ” on the show. His book, titled “The Eternal Galilean,” was published in 1934. He wrote about the attributes of Jesus and dwelt on the life of the Son of God in the book.
He was consecrated a bishop on June 11, 1951. After then, he worked as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of New York. His TV show, ‘Life is Worth Living,’ premiered on the DuMont Television Network the following year. His work, ‘Life of Christ,’ was published in 1954. This became one of his most well-known novels, in which he discussed Christ’s birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection. ‘Life is Worth Living,’ his television show, ran successfully until 1957, attracting a large audience. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith selected him as its national director the following year.
In 1961, he hosted ‘The Fulton Sheen Program,’ which went on to become a nationally syndicated show. The concert followed a pattern that was almost identical to his previous show, ‘Life is Worth Living.’ He was consecrated as Bishop of Rochester, New York, on October 26, 1966. He was also hosting the TV show ‘The Fulton Sheen Program’ at the time. In July of 1967, he devoted much of his time to initiatives aimed at encouraging people to oppose the Vietnam War. He also sought to donate the St. Bridget’s Parish building to the federal Housing and Urban Development program that year, but his request was turned down by the church’s higher authorities.
He founded the Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation on December 12, 1967. This foundation’s major goal is to give affordable homes to the poorest members of society. The Archbishop of Washington invited him to speak at the Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, Maryland, during a retreat for diocesan priests in 1974. On reel-to-reel tape, he taped his remarks. He requested that his speech be recorded and released as an album. This aided the formation of ‘Ministr-O-Media,’ which recorded the lecture and distributed it as an audio tape named ‘Renewal and Reconciliation.’ ‘Ministr-O-Media’ became one of the largest non-music tape distributors. This brought in a lot of money.
Achievements & Awards
He was awarded the Emmy Award for ‘Most Outstanding Television Personality’ in 1952.
Personal History and Legacy
He was diagnosed with TB as a child. He had heart difficulties and underwent surgery at the Lenox Hill Hospital for them. Due to cardiac difficulties, he died at the age of 84. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was where he was laid to rest. St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester, New York, houses his archives and television programs.
Fulton J. Sheen’s autobiography, ‘Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen,’ was released posthumously in 1980.
Estimated Net Worth
Fulton is one of the wealthiest Religious Leaders and one of the most well-known Religious Leaders. Fulton J. Sheen’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
While Pope Pius XII described him as a “times prophet.” Pope Benedict XVI named him a Venerable Servant of God in 2012.