Full Sheen ahead: Update on cause given at local radio network’s fundraiser

Msgr. Jason Gray, executive director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, discusses the sainthood cause of Archbishop Sheen with Catholic Spirit Radio host Royce Hood (center) on Oct. 25 at the network’s studio in Normal. (Provided photo)

By Paul Thomas Moore

NORMAL — Msgr. Jason Gray gave an update on the cause for the beatification of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen during an on-air fundraiser for Catholic Spirit Radio on Oct. 25. The executive director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation illustrated how the “pause in the cause” has permitted the test of time to prove Archbishop Sheen’s worthiness for beatification even more conclusively.

In early 2019, it seemed all systems were go, with the beatification set for Dec. 21 in the 100th anniversary year of Archbishop Sheen’s ordination.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen is pictured in an undated file photo. (CNS photo/courtesy of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States)

Then the cause ran into the headwinds of controversy in New York State, where Archbishop Sheen had served as Bishop of Rochester from 1966 to 1969. “The church in New York was going through a tremendous amount of difficulty,” Msgr. Gray related, in regard to the past handling of sex abuse cases. Subsequently, the Diocese of Rochester would file for bankruptcy in September, 2019.

However, there was no knowledge of any cases that had been mishandled by Archbishop Sheen, Msgr. Gray said. Indeed, in two cases of priests that then-Bishop Sheen had administered, “he handled them exactly correctly — taking someone out of the service who had committed abuse, and not letting someone who had abused back into ministry.” Msgr. Gray added, “He did as bishop exactly what we would expect any bishop to do today.”


But in the atmosphere that existed in 2019, “that idea of trying to avoid any danger is why the Holy See then said, ‘Well, why don’t we wait?’”

Msgr. Gray reported that in the years since, no one has come to Rochester to claim any case was mishandled by then-Bishop Sheen. “Not one allegation has impugned Sheen in any way . . . . Sheen is clean.” In regard to the beatification cause, as Msgr. Gray stated in an Aug. 24, 2023 interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “I’m sure that we’ll get there.”

Catholic Spirit Radio’s Fall Appeal was in support of the network’s mission of radio evangelization, so complementary with Sheen’s own broadcast evangelization efforts. In honor of Archbishop Sheen’s example, the theme of the fall appeal was “Full Sheen Ahead.”

Founded in 2011, Normal-based Catholic Spirit Radio has grown to seven stations throughout central and northern Illinois with a potential listening audience of one million.

Within the Peoria Diocese, stations include 92.5 FM in Bloomington-Normal, 89.5 FM McLean County, 88.3 FM Pontiac and Livingston County, and 97.1 FM Lincoln and Logan County. Live streaming is available at catholicspiritradio.com. The network broadcasts 24 hours a day with programs from national networks of EWTN, Guadalupe, Ave Maria, Virgin Most Powerful, and Station of the Cross, and also produces six local shows.

All donors received an Archbishop Sheen prayer card and bookmark. Donors of more than $100 received an Archbishop Sheen medal, which had been touched to an item belonging to him, and therefore qualified as a third-class relic. Donors of $500 or more received a blessed World Mission Rosary, designed by Archbishop Sheen when he was head of the Propagation of Faith.

At press time, the appeal had raised $17,500, with donations still being accepted at catholicspiritradio.com.

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