Archbishop Sheen cause again being advanced in diocese

Photo Caption: Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a native of the Diocese of Peoria who gained worldwide fame as a media pioneer, author, and missionary, gives a radio address in this file photo.

After a 12-week “pause,” the Peoria-based Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation is resuming its efforts to advance the cause for beatification and sainthood of the world-renowned media pioneer, author, and native of the Diocese of Peoria.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who serves as president of the Sheen Foundation, “happily announces” the resumption of the local efforts in a Foundation statement dated Jan. 27.

On Nov. 3, Bishop Jenky suspended work on the cause in the Diocese of Peoria because of questions with the Archdiocese of New York over the future location of Archbishop Sheen’s remains. While that question remains “unsettled” — the body is now in a crypt beneath St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, while Bishop Jenky has petitioned for its transfer to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria ?- the matter is now being reviewed by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes at the Vatican.

Bishop Jenky received encouragement from around the world and “especially within his own diocese” to continue the Foundation’s work, according to Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria and an officer of the Sheen Foundation.

Archbishop Sheen, born in El Paso, Ill., and ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, went on to become an internationally popular evangelist, radio/TV personality, writer and missionary. He is most known for his television series, “Life is Worth Living,” which had a viewing audience of more than 30 million people.

Archbishop Sheen died on Dec. 9, 1979. The Diocese of Peoria opened the diocesan phase of his canonization cause in 2002. It was completed in 2008, and the research and testimonies are now being evaluated at the Vatican by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

Following is the full text of the Sheen Foundation’s statement:

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Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, president of the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation, happily announces that the Foundation has resumed its efforts to advance the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification and canonization. In November 2010, Bishop Jenky initiated a pause in the eight-year effort to promote the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification due to questions with the Archdiocese of New York regarding Archbishop Sheen’s mortal remains.

The Sheen Foundation has been the promoter of the cause since it was officially opened in 2002 and centralized its operations in Peoria, Ill., in 2007. As Bishop of Peoria, Bishop Jenky presided over the diocesan investigation into the life and sanctity of Fulton Sheen, who was born, raised, and ordained a priest in the Diocese of Peoria. Over the years, the Sheen Foundation and its work to advance the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification has become a worldwide movement, attracting the support of cardinals, bishops, clergy, religious, missionaries and lay faithful from around the globe.

As part of his efforts to insure the proper oversight of the Sheen Foundation, Bishop Jenky asked the Foundation leadership to undergo a thorough renewal in the spring of 2008, shortly after the conclusion of the diocesan phase of the process and the sending of the documents to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican. In his desire to offer oversight and encouragement to the cause, Bishop Jenky became the president (the juridic representative in canon law) of the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation, with consultation provided by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Council made up of clergy, religious, and lay family and friends of Archbishop Sheen.

In January 2010, Bishop Jenky, as president of the Foundation, pursued the Foundation’s goal of transferring the remains of Archbishop Sheen from its relatively obscure crypt under the sanctuary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, to a new tomb being prepared in the Peoria Cathedral. The Foundation leadership has been in favor of this transfer since at least 2002. Bishop Jenky, in his role as the Bishop of Competence during the diocesan investigation, made several requests to the Archbishop of New York and was personally assured that the tomb would be transferred at the appropriate time.

Bishop Jenky formally requested this transfer from Archbishop Timothy Dolan throughout 2010. After many months of requests for clarification, Archbishop Dolan would give no assurances regarding the transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s remains. Bishop Jenky called for a pause in the work of the Foundation in November 2010. The failure of the Archdiocese of New York to fulfill the promised transfer of the remains to Peoria caused great upset and even scandal among those who had so long supported the cause. The people and clergy of the Diocese of Peoria were particularly distressed as they had so generously supported the work of the Foundation for so long.

Patricia Gibson, Chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria and officer of the Sheen Foundation, commented: “Bishop Jenky felt compelled to initiate the pause in light of the months of unresolved questions regarding the transfer of the remains. Even though this issue remains unsettled, Bishop Jenky received encouragement from cardinals, bishops and the faithful from around the world, and especially from within his own diocese. Bishop Jenky has asked the Vatican dicastery to help resolve the question of the tomb, even as he has now definitively continued the Foundation’s work to advance Archbishop Sheen’s cause,” said Gibson.

After further consultation, and having heard the desire of the faithful to see the cause advance, Bishop Jenky, as president of the Sheen Foundation, is happy to work with the postulator in Rome and is hopeful that the cause will advance quickly.

Msgr. Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Sheen Foundation, added “I am so happy to see the Foundation’s leadership continue in Peoria. Sheen was born in Peoria. His cause for sainthood was begun in Peoria. And I look forward to seeing this good work completed in Peoria.”

For more information about the Sheen Foundation and the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification, please visit ArchbishopSheenCause.org or call the Foundation offices, (309) 671-1550.

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