I was watching some TV, one Sunday evening recently, and a programme called ‘Life is Worth Living’ came on. It was one programme in a series hosted by Bishop Fulton J Sheen, and what a personality and evangelist he was.
Fulton John Sheen (born Peter John Sheen, May 8, was an American bishop known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio. Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria in 1919, Sheen quickly became a renowned theologian, earning the Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy in 1923. He went on to teach theology and philosophy at The Catholic University of America as well as acting as a parish priest before being appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York in 1951. He held this position until 1966 when he was made the Bishop of Rochester from October 21, 1966 to October 6, 1969, when he resigned and was made the Archbishop of the Titular See of Newport, Wales.
But he was probably best known for his TV series. Filmed at the Adelphi Theatre in New York City, the program consisted of the unpaid Sheen simply speaking in front of a live audience without a script or cue cards, occasionally using a chalkboard. Drawing an audience of over 30 million people every week he knocked some of America’s best programmes off the ratings charts and in 1952 won an Emmy Award and was called ‘The first TV Evangelist!’
Bishop Sheen, when you watch him, gets his message over with humour, but mainly with a passion and total faith and belief in what he says. He truly is someone who proclaimed the Gospel in a modern way.
We may not have a TV studio at our disposal, nor tickets to hear us speak be like gold dust, but we have a duty to proclaim the Gospel using any means at our disposal just like Bishop Sheen. He heard the command of the Lord “Go out into the world and proclaim the Good News,” and answered it, as we must do for it is the same command to us as it was to him,
So as we thank God for people like Bishop Fulton J Sheen, who give us a witness and example, let us pray that we may respond to the Lord’s call and proclaim the Gospel in all that we do.