Pope Francis has approved a miracle from the late American archbishop and media evangelist Fulton J. Sheen, to lead him closer to sainthood.
The miracle involves a baby, James Fulton Engstrom, who was born stillborn in September 2010.
After failing to respond to medical efforts to revive him, the boy’s parents, Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of Goodfield, Illinois, asked for Archbishop Sheen’s intercession to heal their son. After 61 minutes, James began breathing. He is now a healthy young child.
The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated the decree approving Sheen’s miracle on July 6. Sheen will be beatified in the Peoria area, the diocese in which he was ordained.
The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonisation in 2002. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI recognised the heroic virtues of the archbishop.
In September 2014, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended Sheen’s cause on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.
Just last week, a New York court ruled that Sheen’s remains should be transferred from New York to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria. This ruling enabled the process for sainthood to resume.
Bishop Jenky reacted to the news with “overwhelming joy”. He said: “It is truly amazing how God continues to work miracles.”
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was an American who was well known for his media ministry of evangelisation. In 1930, he presented a weekly Sunday radio program, “The Catholic Hour.” He moved to television in 1950 with his popular programme, “Life is Worth Living,” which had a weekly following of more than 30 million viewers.
Having been ordained a priest in Illinois at the age of 24, Sheen was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951. He was appointed Bishop of Rochester, New York, in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.
Whilst no date has yet been set for the beatification, Bishop Jenky expressed hope that Sheen would be beatified in 2019-the 100th anniversary year of his ordination to the priesthood in Peoria.
A further miracle will pave the way for Sheen’s canonisation.
Picture: CNS file photo