Archbishop Fulton Sheen
A Brief Biography of Fulton J. Sheen
The name of Fulton J. Sheen is widely known to Americans, both Catholic and not. Bishop Fulton Sheen, named a Servant of God in 2002 when his cause for canonization was opened, was a priest, author, and broadcaster whose riveting and influential blend of wisdom, warmth, and humor in spreading the gospel reached many people.
Sheen was born in 1895, the oldest of four sons born to a farmer. He was baptized Peter John Sheen, though he was known as Fulton, his mother’s maiden name, from an early age. His role in the Catholic Church began early in life, when he became an altar server at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois.
After graduating high school as valedictorian and then attending St. Viator College, Fulton entered Saint Paul Seminary in Minnesota and was ordained in 1919. He continued to study, earning a doctorate in philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and becoming the first American to win the Cardinal Mercier award for the best philosophical treatise. He taught theology at St. Edmund’s college in Ware, England and later taught philosophy at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Two things that Fulton Sheen is probably best remembered for are his roles as author and as the first major religious broadcaster of note. He wrote the first of his eventual 73 books in 1925. In 1930 he began his first Sunday night radio broadcasts. The weekly broadcast would carry on for two decades, drawing a large audience every week – an average of about four million listeners. During this time he also conducted the first religious service broadcast on the new medium of television. He began a weekly broadcast on TV in 1951, mainly consisting of the bishop – as he’d been consecrated in that same year – simply speaking to the audience on theology and its relation to current topics of the time, such as communism and psychology. The show ran until 1957, and Sheen won an Emmy in 1952; in his acceptance of the award, Fulton thanked his writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
In 1969, Fulton was named Archbishop of the Titular See of Newport in Wales. The position was largely ceremonial and so allowed Sheen much time to continue his prolific writing. By the end of his life in 1979, Sheen had written 73 books, as well as many articles and columns. His cause for canonization was opened in 2002 and he is currently named as a Servant of God. To this day, the books and recorded programs of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen are highly sought after, as relatable and pertinent in today’s society as ever.
This biographical information was adapted from Wikipedia.
Books and Other Resources from Fulton Sheen
Years after the initial print-runs, many of Fulton Sheen’s most powerful books are still available today. Many new titles are also available – compilations of influential and favorite sermons, columns, and bits of wisdom from his broadcasts or other books.
Some Church year/seasonal favorites include titles such as Advent and Christmas with Fulton Sheen and The Characters of the Passion. The classic Fulton Sheen’s Wartime Prayerbook is widely considered just as invaluable and inspirational now as when it was first published in the midst of World War II.
There are also several DVDs available, including a broadcast about Good Friday from his Emmy-award winning television show, A Life Worth Living, and more. Many of his inspiring broadcasts are also available on audio format, in an expansive 24-disc set.
To view our complete selection of books, DVDs, and CDs from Fulton Sheen, click here.