Saints who’ve had an impact on the Diocese of Phoenix

Ven., Soon-to-be Bl. Fulton J. Sheen

Anniversary of Death: Dec. 9

Known for his preaching, especially on television and radio, Fulton Sheen was born to an Irish family in El Paso, Illinois, on May 8, 1895. He discovered his call to the priesthood at the age of 24 and was ordained in 1919. He pursued higher studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Soon-to-be Blessed Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (right) visited the Diocese of Phoenix in 1975 at the invitation of Bishop Edward A. McCarthy (right). (CATHOLIC SUN file photo)

He returned to the U.S. in 1926 and began teaching at the Catholic University of America until 1950. A gifted teacher and speaker, Fr. Sheen’s homilies were much appreciated. In 1930, he began participating in the Sunday radio program “The Catholic Hour,” which reached an estimated four million listeners at the height of its popularity.

In 1951, he became auxiliary bishop of New York and began hosting a weekly television series, “Life is Worth Living,” on matters of faith that attracted some 30 million viewers and earned him an Emmy, the proceeds of which he donated to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He later served as bishop of Rochester 1966-1969, before being appointed titular archbishop of Newport.

He died in New York at the age of 84, on Dec. 9, 1979. Pope Francis authorized his beatification July 5, 2019, with a ceremony scheduled for Dec. 21. Although there are no official feast days for Venerables, Dec. 9 is the date that Archbishop Sheen passed into eternal life.

Impact on the Diocese of Phoenix

Archbishop Sheen visited the Diocese of Phoenix Dec. 3, 1975, to preach at the “Festival of Faith” Mass closing the 1975 Ordinary Jubilee Holy Year. In his homily, he urged his listeners to make the daily Holy Hour to sustain their faith. “Faith gives us security, joy,” he said. “When we believe the incredible, we can do the impossible.” He’d previously visited the diocese in 1970 to speak at the Franciscan Renewal Center.