The Bishop of Peoria has rejoiced at a Vatican medical panel’s unanimous approval of a reported miracle attributed to the famous television personality and evangelist, Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
“There are many more steps ahead and more prayers are needed. But today is a good reason to rejoice,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill. said March 6.
“Today is a significant step in the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of our beloved Fulton Sheen, a priest of Peoria and a Son of the Heartland who went on to change the world.”
The approval came from a seven-member board of medical experts advising the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Diocese of Peoria reports.
The reputed miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born apparently stillborn in September 2010 to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of the Peoria-area town of Goodfield. He showed no signs of life as medical professionals tried to revive him. The child’s mother and father prayed to Archbishop Sheen to heal their son.
Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart started beating again and he escaped serious medical problems.
The Vatican’s medical advisory panel ruled that there is no medical explanation for the healing of the baby. The ruling means that a board of theologians will now review the case. If they approve the case, its consideration could pass to the cardinals and bishops who advise Pope Francis on beatifications.
If the case reaches Pope Francis, his approval would recognize Archbishop Sheen as “blessed,” the final stage before possible canonization as a saint.
Archbishop Sheen was born May 8, 1895 in El Paso, Ill. near Peoria. His family moved to Peoria and he grew up in the parish of the Cathedral of St. Mary, where he was an altar server, the Diocese of Peoria says. He was ordained a priest at the cathedral in 1919. He served as a professor of philosophy and religion at the Catholic University of America before becoming a popular radio personality in the 1930s.
The beloved host of the “Catholic Hour” radio show and the Emmy-award winning television show “Life is Worth Living” reached an audience of millions during his broadcasting career. Servant of God Fulton Sheen authored many books and headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the United States. He served as an auxiliary bishop of New York and as Bishop of Rochester.
Archbishop Sheen dedicated the profits from his books into foreign missions. Sheen’s work has helped create 9,000 clinics, 10,000 orphanages, and 1,200 schools. The institutions his donations support now educate 80,000 seminarians and 9,000 vowed religious.
He continued to be a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death in 1979 at the age of 84, at the entrance to the private chapel of his New York City apartment.
Bishop Jenky opened Archbishop Sheen’s cause for sainthood in 2002. In June 2012 Pope Benedict XVI recognized Archbishop Sheen as having heroic virtues.
More information about Archbishop Sheen and his cause for canonization is available at the website ArchbishopSheenCause.org.