The July 9 family-friendly event will focus on rediscovering Venerable Fulton Sheen’s messages for our times, signing a petition to have his beatification Mass rescheduled soon, and several related activities.
The Fulton Sheen Movement has announced plans for a “Fulton Sheen Rally” — an all-day event on Sunday, July 9, at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen, Illinois. The family-friendly event will focus on rediscovering Venerable Fulton Sheen’s messages for our times, signing a petition to have his beatification Mass rescheduled soon, and several Sheen-related activities.
To promote the cause of beatification and pray for powerful graces for the Church through the intercession of Archbishop Sheen, the event will include prayer, celebration, inspiration, feasting, and active participation in advancing the cause of the archbishop.
Peter Howard, founder and president of the Fulton Sheen Movement, explained that holding this rally is important “because the beatification of Fulton Sheen — or the status of it — is misunderstood or not understood at all by too many Catholics”; and, importantly, because of “the urgency in which the Church needs Fulton Sheen and his beatification now.”
Howard called the beatification “the ultimate magnet to draw people to Sheen’s wisdom, his prophetic insights, and really his direction of where the Church should be going, what it should be doing, and how we Catholics should be formed in order to navigate these times that we’re in and that he foresaw 80-plus years ago.”
The rally will begin with Divine Liturgy. Most people do not know Archbishop Sheen was bi-ritual and on occasion also celebrated the Byzantine Rite. The day will help those attending rediscover Archbishop Sheen’s messages from both Howard and Father Thomas Loya, pastor of Assumption Church. They will share insights about his life and his teachings. A co-purpose is for people to sign the petition for his beatification Mass.
Howard believes this is “a spiritually driven initiative” to collect as many voices as possible. “And the way you do that is through a petition” that calls for the immediate rescheduling of the Mass of beatification.
“We need to set the date,” he said, adding that “the Church follows the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t follow the attorney general in New York.” He referred to the postponement more than three years ago when the state’s attorney general’s office decided to investigate activities of all bishops in regard to scandals. “So this is where the Church needs courage,” Howard emphasized.
“The Church is supposed to lead the world, not the world lead the Church.”
He added that people can also sign the petition online anytime. Priests and theologians have already signed, as have people internationally, because this is a “global initiative, especially focusing on the United States.”
“This rally will help reignite the power of sensus fidelium [the faith of the people], which will send a clarion call to the Church to hasten the canonization of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen,” Father Loya explained. He will speak on “+Sheen: Prophet for Our Lost Age.”
“The witness and wisdom of Bishop Sheen during his earthly life has a profound relevance for our world today,” he noted. “The world needs to turn to his intercession, and that is possible if he is declared a canonized saint of the Church.”
“You can say he certainly predicted to the letter what was coming,” Howard said about Archbishop Sheen’s prophetic messages from decades ago. “What did he already see that was present? He knew that there was a crisis. Everything that we are facing right now he prophesied.”
He said that Archbishop Sheen was “made for our times even more than his own. What he said is all about right now. And once he is raised to the altar as a ‘blessed,’ people are going to find answers.”
The inspired moment when the Holy Spirit gives the Church a blessed “always corresponds to the signs of the times in which we’re living,” Howard added.
Howard also believes “there is no one who is a better icon for the entire Eucharistic Revival than Venerable Sheen and his 60-year promise of his daily Holy Hour, which he said explicitly was the reason why he had power to convert souls and why people listened. So that has the potential to draw even more.”
For these reasons, he envisions a “tsunami of grace” coming into the Church the moment Archbishop Sheen is beatified, especially the Church in the United States. “When you are called ‘Blessed,’ everything you say now has a greater weight to it.”
Archbishop Sheen himself seemed to envision these times, and maybe the movement, as Howard recalled the bishop’s words from 1972, when he received the “Catholic Man of Action Award” at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania: “Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious to act like religious.”