by Paul Vitello
To a Catholic boy like Tim Dolan, growing up in the heartland when Protestant neighbors still made casual jokes about the “papists” next door, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen rode into town in the 1950s on the new main street of the United States, the television set, like a true-blue American hero.
“He showed the broad American public that the truths of our faith were consonant with the highest values of the society: patriotism, God, family and the struggle against Communism,” said that boy, now known as Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York.
Archbishop Dolan led a memorial Mass on Wednesday evening at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Bishop Sheen. An auxiliary bishop of the New York Archdiocese from 1951 to 1965, the man whom the Rev. Billy Graham called “the greatest communicator of the 20th century” is buried in a crypt under the cathedral altar, which was open for public viewing before the Mass.
In a way, the event — which attracted Roman Catholic dignitaries, parishioners from across the country and two great-great nieces of the bishop — served unofficially as promotion for a little-noticed campaign to make Bishop Sheen, the first and greatest Catholic televangelist, a saint of the church.
After 20 years in radio, Bishop Sheen scored a hit with his first weekly TV show, “Life is Worth Living,” on the DuMont network. The program drew tens of millions of viewers on Tuesday nights from 1951 to 1957, though it appeared opposite giants of early television like Lucille Ball and Milton Berle (who once quipped that the bishop was pretty good for a guy who “uses old material”)... Read the whole article.
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- ► 2010 (54)
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- ▼ December 2009 (21)
- Fr. Christopher George Phillips
- Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.