Catholic Diocese of Peoria celebrates birthday of Archbishop Fulton Sheen

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peorians at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception honored and celebrated the life and service of Archbishop Fulton Sheen on Sunday.

A mass was held by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria on May 8, and what would have been Sheen’s 126th birthday.

Bishop Louis Tylka led the mass, remembering Sheen’s dedication to helping others and his contribution to modernizing the religion.

“We continue to promote the cause both for his beatification and canonization,” Tylka said. “But much more so to promote the cause that he held so dear, which is the preaching and sharing of the gospel.”

Tylka said Sheen was the first televangelist, pioneering the movement on his hit TV show “Life is Worth Living.” Sheen won an Emmy for his work in 1952.

“He was a trailblazer to have a TV show in honor of being able to preach the gospel, and really reached millions of people because of that,” Tylka said. “He was so far ahead of his time in that reality that we take for granted today.”

The Emmy is one of the many possessions donated by Sheen’s great niece and nephew. The treasures will be stored in a museum dedicated to the Bishop.

Sheen’s great nephew, Paul Cunningham, said he was honored to have donated these items of his great uncle’s and said Sheen was a good man, dedicated to the gospel and speaking on acts of social justice, too.

“I think that message is still, you can still see it on television, on YouTube, whatever it may be, and a lot of those messages are still pertinent to the world today,” Cunningham said.”

Tylka said they plan to hold three masses a year to honor Sheen — one for his birthday, the day he was made a priest, and the day he died. The next mass will honor him entering priesthood.

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