Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria is inviting the faithful to pray a novena beginning Dec. 12 to “petition God unceasingly” that Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s sainthood cause may move forward.
Sheen, a beloved American evangelist and television personality who died in 1979, was set to be beatified Dec. 21 in Peoria, but the Holy See announced Dec. 2 that the beatification was to be postponed.
“I know how deeply saddened we all are about the postponement of the beatification of Fulton Sheen,” said Bishop Jenky said in a video message Dec. 9.
“But in these turbulent times when our faith is being tested…we need to remain faithful to prayer like Archbishop Sheen.”
The novena will begin Dec. 12 and include daily meditations on reflections from Sheen, Jenky announced.
In the days after the Diocese of Peoria announced the postponement, Catholics around the world reportedly led a grassroots effort to have “a million” Masses celebrated for Sheen to pray for his beatification to move forward.
Lo Anne Mayer, a Catholic in New Jersey who in 2017 helped to organize an effort calling on Catholic churches around the world to celebrate a special Mass on Sheen’s May 8 birthday, put the word out to Catholics to celebrate a special Mass for Sheen Dec. 9.
Dec. 9 marked the 40th anniversary of Sheen’s death at the age of 84. Catholic media outlets, including EWTN, helped to spread the word.
Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, and was 24 when he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria.
He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.
The Peoria diocese initially attributed the Vatican’s decision to postpone Sheen’s beatification to “a few members of the Bishop’s Conference who have asked for further consideration.”
CNA reported Dec. 4 that it was Bishop Salvatore Matano of Rochester who asked the apostolic nuncio to the United States to delay the beatification, citing concerns about an ongoing state attorney general’s investigation into the dioceses of New York state.
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