Celebrating the Legacy of Archbishop Fulton Sheen as Head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
When you think of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, imagine a man who not only wore the miter but also carried the world in his prayers. As head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966, Sheen wasn’t just an ecclesiastical figure but a whirlwind of missionary zeal.
He led millions to daily recite the World Mission Rosary and think about all those living in the Pope’s missions, those territories where the Church is too young, too poor, or actively persecuted, and as such, incapable of being self-reliant.
As National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, one of four Pontifical Mission Societies, Archbishop Sheen wasn’t one to stay behind the scenes: He traveled the world, meeting people in the missions and sharing their stories in MISSION Magazine, his TV shows Life Is Worth Living and The Fulton Sheen Program, and his Sunday homilies.
He was the brains behind the first MISSION Magazine, the publication of which has gone uninterrupted since the first issue in July 1951. In his column for the first issue, he wrote: “The poor missions of the world need the comfortable to supply roofs for their churches, medicine for their hospitals, and clothes for their backs, but the comfortable need the poor in order that they may have the blessing of God in their hearts, the charity of Christ in their souls, and the intercession of the poor who are the friends of God.”
He raised hundreds of millions for the Church in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He made a personal contribution of 10 million from his own earnings as a night-time TV personality. Yet, to him, it wasn’t just about raising money but about spreading hope and kindling faith. His efforts were more than administrative; they were transformative, touching lives across continents.
His dedication to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith was such that he called this role his favorite, as it allowed him to directly visit and engage with missions in Africa and other parts of the world, effectively raising awareness and funds.
Two months before his death, a special moment unfolded when Pope John Paul II, visiting New York, embraced Archbishop Sheen at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Pope’s words, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church,” encapsulated Sheen’s life’s work – a testament to his dedication and impact.
Archbishop Sheen’s legacy is a mosaic of faith, hope, and tireless work for the missions. It’s a story of a man who prayed with his words and actions, leaving an indelible mark on the Catholic Church and its missionary outreach.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s tenure as the head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith was marked by his deep faith, effective leadership, and an enduring commitment to the global missionary cause. His legacy inspires and guides those dedicated to spreading the Christian faith worldwide.
He died as he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in his private chapel 44 years ago today, on December 9, 1979.