Final video in Five Foundations series explores legacy of Fulton Sheen
Thinking about Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen as an historical figure with a nice story doesn’t begin to do justice to the sainthood candidate, who has his roots in the Diocese of Peoria, according to Msgr. Jason Gray, executive director of the Fulton Sheen Foundation.
“He had insights about the Gospel and about the Eucharist and about the priesthood and about our Lord that I think could only have come from his regular, personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament,” Msgr. Gray told The Catholic Post. “That’s why his witness is not a cold memorial from history that we’re recounting to talk about the past, but it’s really living and vibrant and it’s needed in a very warm and real way in the present.”
Msgr. Gray talks more about the El Paso native and media evangelist in a conversation with Katie Bogner in the fifth and final video in the series on the Five Foundations of Growing Disciples. This foundation seeks to continue the legacy of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
The video was filmed at the Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center in Magnolia by Sam Mangieri of Fiat Films. It can be found on the YouTube page of the Diocese of Peoria’s website, cdop.org..
The other foundations focus on evangelization, discipleship, strengthening vocations, and deepening awareness of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“A QUESTION OF TIME”
In their wide-ranging conversation, Msgr. Gray and Bogner, the author of a curriculum based on the life of Fulton Sheen, talk about his teachings and books, and discuss his cause for canonization.
In addition to serving as director of the Sheen Foundation, Msgr. Gray helped to investigate the miraculous healing of a local child who did not have a heartbeat or take a breath for 61 minutes after his birth in September 2010. The miracle, attributed to the intercession of Fulton Sheen, was accepted by Pope Francis in July 2019 and cleared the way for Sheen to be beatified.
Scheduled for Dec, 21, 2019, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, the beatification was delayed. In the video, Msgr. Gray shares developments in the cause and talks about why he has no doubt that Sheen will be beatified.
“It’s just a question of time,” he said.
Bogner, a middle school religion teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria and an organizer of the Fulton Sheen Family Day, said one of her primary goals in participating in the video was to help people understand that Fulton Sheen is as relevant today as he was 60 or 70 years ago.
“He is someone that adults can learn from,” she told The Catholic Post. “But I’m a huge advocate for kids learning from him, as well.”
Originally written for her fifth grade students at St. Joseph School in Pekin 10 years ago, Bogner’s Sheen curriculum now includes activities and resources for students from kindergarten through high school.
HE KNEW THE LORD
“One of the things he did so well was he not only knew our faith on a rich and deep level, but he was also versed in current culture,” she said of Fulton Sheen. “He knew what was going on in world politics and he wasn’t afraid to weave that into his teaching.
“But what he did so masterfully, I think, is when you hear him talk about those things it doesn’t date his message,” Bogner said. “Because he wasn’t afraid to be immersed in the culture of his time, it’s easy to take his teachings and apply them to the culture we live in. Fast forward another hundred years, and his words will make sense then.”
Sheen also had the capability to take complex theological concepts and present them in a way that everyone could understand, she said.
And because he lived in the 21st century, it is possible to learn these things from his voice and his person through radio and television broadcasts.
Msgr. Gray said people could learn about Fulton Sheen by visiting St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, where he was ordained and is now entombed; by going to the Sheen Museum at the Spalding Pastoral Center; or by reading his books. But Msgr. Gray also invited people to do as Sheen did by reading Scripture and spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
“The best teacher is Christ himself,” Msgr. Gray said. “Sheen certainly was a student at the feet of the master and his insights reflect the fact that he knew our Lord well.”
“Everything he did was for our Lord,” Bogner said. “The man lived and breathed his faith and just really poured himself out for his love of the church.”