Archbishop Fulton Sheen began media evangelization on radio in the 1920s and moved to TV with his Life is Worth Living show in the 1950s.

CNS file photo

Archbishop Fulton Sheen began media evangelization on radio in the 1920s and moved to TV with his Life is Worth Living show in the 1950s.

June 6, 2011

When Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., presented Pope Benedict with two thick volumes about the life of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the pope surprised him by saying he had worked with the late archbishop.

Pope Benedict "told me something I hadn't known: he worked on the commission for mission at the Second Vatican Council with Fulton Sheen," Jenky told Catholic News Service. The pope served as a theological expert at the council in the 1960s.

On May 25, Jenky presented the pope with the official position paper, outlining why the Catholic Church should recognize Sheen as a saint.

Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist.

For the Peoria bishop, the most impressive thing about Sheen was his untiring evangelizing effort, which was addressed not just to radio or television audiences, but to taxi drivers and anyone else he happened to meet.

"I don't know how many people he brought to the faith; it must be thousands and thousands," the bishop said.

"He never passed by an opportunity to bring someone to the faith. He was a hands-on evangelizer."