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.