Abp. Sheen sainthood cause again being advanced in diocese

Around the Diocese of Peoria and even around the world, those who admire Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen reacted with joy to news that the Peoria-based Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation is resuming its efforts to advance the cause for beatification and sainthood of the beloved media pioneer.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who serves as president of the Sheen Foundation, “happily” announced the resumption of 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 those questions remain “unsettled” — the body rests 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.

“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.

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.

Msgr. Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Sheen Foundation, said reaction to last week’s news has been “very positive” from “around the country and around the world.”

“People are really happy to see the cause is going to continue,” he told The Catholic Post.

That happiness may be most profound in Archbishop Sheen’s home diocese, whose clergy and people have generously supported the work of the Foundation for nearly a decade.

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

Msgr. Deptula said the cause continues to progress in Rome, and expressed the hope that “a priest of our diocese might be declared ‘Blessed’ soon,” he said, referring to beatification, the final step before canonization as a saint.

Editor’s note: For more information about the Sheen Foundation and the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification, visit ArchbishopSheenCause.org or call the Foundation offices at (309) 671-1550. The full text of the Foundation’s statement appears on its website.

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