Fulton J. Sheen Biography


Birthday: May 8, 1895 (Taurus)

Born In: El Paso, Illinois

Referred to as ‘a prophet of the times’ by Pope Pius XII, Fulton J. Sheen devoted his entire life to Catholicism. He was one of the most influential figures in the twentieth-century, who played a pivotal role in spreading the message of god. This preacher and pastor of American Catholicism was the first American to receive the Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy. A prolific writer, Sheen authored more than 73 books and also wrote many extensive columns and articles for various prestigious publications. He took over the air waves with his immensely popular radio show, ‘The Catholic Hour’ and later went on to host the TV show, ‘Life is Worth Living' and 'The Fulton Sheen Program'. He is also a recipient of the Emmy Award. He is now referred to as the Venerable Servant of God, which was conferred upon him by Pope Benedict XVI. He is much revered, for his television preaching, which attracted an unprecedented number of people, from presidents, common men to children and women from all walks of life. Thus, he is widely recognised as one of the first televangelists.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Fulton John Sheen, Peter John Sheen

Died At Age: 84


father: Newton

mother: Delia

Quotes By Fulton J. Sheen Humanitarian

Died on: December 9, 1979

place of death: New York City

U.S. State: Illinois

More Facts

education: Catholic University of Leuven, St. Viator College, The Catholic University of America, Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity

awards: 1952 - Emmy Award for Most Outstanding Television Personality

  • 1

    What were Fulton J. Sheen's notable achievements as a bishop?

    Fulton J. Sheen was a renowned bishop known for his work in television, particularly his Emmy Award-winning program, "Life is Worth Living," which aired from 1952 to 1957. He was also a prolific author and speaker, reaching a wide audience with his engaging and insightful teachings on the Catholic faith.
  • 2

    How did Fulton J. Sheen impact the Catholic Church in the United States?

    Fulton J. Sheen played a significant role in revitalizing the Catholic Church in the United States during the mid-20th century. His dynamic preaching style and use of mass media helped bring the Catholic faith to a broader audience and inspired many individuals to deepen their spiritual lives and commitment to the Church.
  • 3

    What was Fulton J. Sheen's role in the Second Vatican Council?

    Fulton J. Sheen actively participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as a council father. He contributed to the discussions on various topics, including the role of the laity in the Church and the importance of ecumenism. Sheen's insights and perspectives helped shape the Council's documents and decisions.
  • 4

    How did Fulton J. Sheen address social issues during his ministry?

    Fulton J. Sheen was known for his advocacy on various social issues, including racial equality, social justice, and the sanctity of life. He used his platform to speak out against racism and discrimination and promoted the Catholic Church's teachings on human dignity and the common good.
  • 5

    What was Fulton J. Sheen's approach to evangelization and spreading the Catholic faith?

    Fulton J. Sheen had a gift for communicating the teachings of the Catholic faith in a clear and engaging manner. He utilized television, radio, and print media to reach a wide audience and share the Gospel message. Sheen's approach emphasized the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith, inviting people to encounter Christ and deepen their relationship with God.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Peter John Sheen in El Paso, Illinois to Newton and Delia Sheen. He had three siblings and he was the eldest. He was later baptised as Peter John Sheen.
When his family relocated to Peoria, Illinois, he took part in a church activity for the first time in his life. He was assigned the role of an altar boy at St. Mary's Cathedral.
He attended the Spalding Institute in Peoria, from where he received high school valedictorian honours in 1913. He later attended the St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and the Saint Paul Seminary in Minnesota.
On September 20, 1919, he received his ordination. Subsequently, he went on to pursue his higher education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
In 1923, he obtained a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. There he became the first American recipient of the Cardinal Mercier award, which was conferred upon him for his philosophical treatise.
In 1924, he went on to pursue his education further and earned a Sacred Theology Doctorate from the Pontificium Collegium Internationale Angelicum. This later became Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.
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Later Life
He served as an assistant pastor at the St. Patrick's Church, Soho Square in London. At the same time, he was also teaching theology at St. Edmund's College, Ware.
In 1925, he published his book titled, 'God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy', which was a critical Study in the Light of the Philosophy of Saint Thomas.
In 1926, he was ordered by Bishop Edmund Dunne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, to serve at St. Patrick's Parish. After nine months, he began to teach philosophy at Catholic University.
In 1929, he delivered a talk at the National Catholic Educational Association, where he stressed on the fact that education was necessary for Catholic Renaissance in the U.S.
In 1930, he started ‘The Catholic Hour’, which was a radio show that was broadcast every Sunday night. On the show he once referred to Adolf Hitler as ‘anti-Christ’.
In 1934, he came out with his book titled, ‘The Eternal Galilean'. In the book he elaborated on the life of the Son of God and wrote about the characteristics of Jesus.
On June 11, 1951, he was consecrated a bishop. Subsequently, he served at the Archdiocese of New York as an Auxiliary Bishop. The following year, his TV show, 'Life is Worth Living', began airing on the DuMont Television Network.
In 1954, he published his book titled, 'Life of Christ'. This became one of his highly acclaimed books, in which he elaborated on the Birth, Life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ.
His TV show, 'Life is Worth Living' ran successfully until 1957, gaining a sizeable viewership. The following year, he was appointed by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith as its national director.
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In 1961, he host another TV show, 'The Fulton Sheen Program', which became a nationally syndicated series. The show followed an almost similar pattern to his earlier show, 'Life is Worth Living'.
On October 26, 1966, he received an appointment as the Bishop of Rochester, New York. During this time he was also hosting the TV show, 'The Fulton Sheen Program'.
In July, 1967, he spent much of his time on campaigns that aimed to encourage the denunciation of the Vietnam War. That year, he also wanted to donate St. Bridget’s Parish building to the federal Housing and Urban Development program but this was rejected by higher authorities of the church.
On December 12, 1967, he established the Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation. The main objective of this foundation is to provide affordable housing to impoverished sections of society.
In 1974, he was invited by the Archbishop of Washington to speak at the Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, Maryland, during a retreat for diocesan priests. His speech was recorded on reel-to-reel tape.
He requested that the speech he gave be produced into an album. This facilitated the establishment of ‘Ministr-O-Media’, which released the speech as an audio tape titled, 'Renewal and Reconciliation'.
‘Ministr-O-Media’, became one of the biggest distributers of non-music tapes. This generated lot of income.
Awards & Achievements
In 1952, he received the Emmy Award for the category of ‘Most Outstanding Television Personality'.
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Personal Life & Legacy
While he was an infant, he contracted tuberculosis.
He suffered from heart problems, for which he underwent surgery at the Lenox Hill Hospital. He passed away at the age of 84 due to heart problems. He was laid to rest at the St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Materials like his papers and TV programmes are kept at St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester, New York
In 1980, his autobiography titled, 'Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen' was posthumously published.
Facts About Fulton J. Sheen
Sheen was known for his quirky habit of playing the violin while reciting Shakespearean monologues, showcasing his talents beyond his renowned public speaking abilities.
Despite his busy schedule as a bishop and television personality, Sheen made time for his passion for gardening and was known to spend hours tending to his beloved rose garden.
Sheen had a unique way of relaxing by engaging in frequent games of chess with close friends and colleagues, often using the game as a way to unwind and stimulate his strategic thinking.

In addition to his theological studies and writings, Sheen had a deep interest in science fiction and was known to enjoy reading classic works by authors such as H.G Wells and Isaac Asimov.

See the events in life of Fulton J. Sheen in Chronological Order

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