The Appeal of Fulton Sheen

I like Pat McNamara’s look into the background of Ven. Fulton Sheen:

Growing up on an Illinois farm, a neighbor had told his father: “Newt, that oldest boy of yours, Fulton, will never be worth a damn. He’s always got his nose in a book.” Born May 8th, 1895, he was named Peter but called Fulton (his mother’s maiden name) throughout his life. From childhood, he knew two things: he hated farm life and he wanted to be a priest.

At St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, he joined the debating team. At one point, his coach said, “Sheen, you’re absolutely the worst speaker I ever heard. Do you know what’s wrong with you?” The young man replied, “I’m not natural.” Biographer Thomas Reeves notes, “It was a lesson he never forgot.”

Coming from a family where “you’ll never be worth a damn” was the morning antiphon, I’ve always had a soft spot for these sort of “prove ‘em wrong” stories, and Sheen’s background gave him a unique gift for speaking as an everyman, but with elegance. Read the whole thing.

Also writing about Sheen this week is Brandon Vogt, who calls Sheen the greatest Catholic evangelist of the twentieth century and then goes on to make his case for that claim — in doing so he includes a stirring story you’ll want to read.

I’ve heard people say that St. Paul or St. Isadore should be made patron of new media. But I think I’d go along with the idea that — should he ever be canonized (and that may happen sooner than you might think) — Fulton Sheen ought to be the guy.

In fact, I’ll whisper up a little prayer
, right now, as I’m having a challenging day and am not, of course, being as Christ-like as I should be. Venerable Fulton Sheen, pray for all of us working in new media, that our hearts might grow in understanding and our minds become like Christ’s.

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  • John

    I would agree with you. Fulton Sheen should be the patron of new media. He should also be the patron of public speakers, broadcasters and commedians. He spoke with authority, clarity, and maybe most importantly with authenticity. He clearly communicated the truth, and you could tell that he spoke with his heart, that he believed and lived the truth he was teaching. That is why I think he was so successful.

  • Randy

    I think St Maximilian Kolbe would be a good choice. He embraced the new media of his day. So did St Francis de Sales. Lots of choices. Really having one patron saint of something is so limiting.

  • Bill M.

    A number of his talks from his TV show are available on YouTube, and they are as relevant (and more urgently needed) today as they were 50 years ago.

  • Ted Seeber

    Cardinal Dolan is quickly filling Fulton Sheen’s pointy shoes.

  • Mark

    Love Bishop Sheen. Was looking long and hard the same way at Fr Corapi until he self destructed. Very sad. Anyone know what he is doing now?

  • john

    He should be patron saint of the miraculously cleaned blackboard.

    As a kid, that’s all I remembered about his show, and I was impressed.

  • Mike

    To Mark-
    Google brought this site up- This may or may not be of use to you.
    It was written back in 01/2012 and people are still making comments.

  • Hal

    Just a note on the post: “A farm in Illinois”. I finally figured it was El Paso, on US 51. Turns out, I went through there a few times as a child. To those who have lived in a state, location is interesting. Farms are very different from south to north in Illinois.