Monday, July 26, 2010

Becoming an Apostle for the Cause

The first time that I saw Archbishop Sheen, he was a bishop, he was much older than I, and he was in black and white. Unfortunately, I was not alive at any point during the life of Archbishop Sheen, but I have the ability to see the full force of this great man's teachings from beyond his own life. The first time I saw Bishop Sheen on Life is Worth Living, I think I turned it off, to be completely honest. I was wondering what such an old black and white show was doing on television, as much as I'm sure my friends would wonder why a 20 something would be watching EWTN. However, in the Christian life, as Archbishop Sheen and all the saints have pointed out, redemption plays a major role. So it was, that eventually I sat through an episode of Life is Worth Living, enthralled by the simple images on t.v., and the theatrical bishop who would put the truths of the Faith so simply.

Some time in between my first and second watching of Archbishop Sheen, I must have felt a strange attraction to the name, much like I did to St. John of the Cross, St, Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Damian of Molokai. I say that because for Christmas one year, I purchased for my mother a copy of The World's First Love, and gave it to her. My mother is not a religious reader, and I don't know what came over me, but it was just an impulse buy, something that she soon gave back to me because it was not her cup of tea!

There are many ways to the heart of a man. Like a fire, which requires fuel in the form of something to burn, and fuel in the form of oxygen, I think the flame of the Holy Spirit within each of us uses many types of fuel. First, and foremost, is the tug of the heart, those feelings we have from birth, the longing for a mother's embrace, the need for a bottle, the desire for warmth. There is also the drive of the intellect. This area, I think, is where Archbishop Sheen first ignited for me passions towards our God. His arguments were logical, philosophical, and theological to my eager college mind. The passion behind it, driven most assuredly by the Holy Spirit, was more for me a way to keep things "interesting." It was not exactly a Damascus Road moment for my passion for Christ, it was more of a Mount of the Beatitudes moment. There was nothing overly dramatic, except of course the Archbishop, but it was a steady and building way of looking at the faith from a different perspective that built upon itself.

Over time I would read snippets of His Excellency's writings, and watch Life is Worth Living, and at the time I was really getting into these things, Fr. Ryan Humphries, a priest in my diocese, released on radio and podcast a series called Life is Still Worth Living, an homage to Archbishop Sheen. This common interest springing up seemed to confirm for me that I was following someone who was, in the best terms I could think of, "really cool." Eventually I decided to read a book by Archbishop Sheen, and I don't remember which one it was, but as soon as I was finished with that one, I went online to order another book, and ended up ordering eight.
I read The Priest is Not His Own, and this book has become my favorite. Even as a layman, I saw the virtue and passions of the priesthood. It helped me to appreciate my priests around me even more, but, on a personal level, it taught me that even the "priesthood of the baptised" has a role in the Sacrifice of the Cross. I digress.
In another confirmation of my devotion to Archbishop Sheen, earlier this year I saw an advertisement for a new documentary, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: A Servant of All, and clicked on the link. It asked for people to host screenings, and I looked into it, and it cost money! I, being the frugal person that I am (read: cheap), had seen very interesting movies before that were looking for people to host screenings, but I had always ignored them after seeing the price. For some reason, when I read the Sheen film's suggestions, "perfect for Knights of Columbus" jumped out at me. Being a Knight, I went to my council and asked them if I could use the hall for the screening, they approved and I was suddenly hosting a screening!
Shortly after the screening I was asked to join the Advisory Board of the Sheen Foundation, I accepted, and Bishop Jenky appointed me to the board while I was on a pilgrimage in Europe. I had asked for some holy cards for Archbishop Sheen, and set about distributing them as I met English speaking Pilgrims in Lisieux, Tours, Lourdes, Ars, Rome and Assisi. At the end of the Pallium Mass, my last day in Rome, I had about a dozen prayer cards left out of the original 50. I struck up a conversation with a few women on pilgrimage with Archbishop Wenski of Miami, mentioned the name of Fulton Sheen, and all of a sudden I lost control of the conversation as they began to rattle off all of their memories of Life is Worth Living, or other things related to Sheen. It turns out, one of them was from Rochester, and remembered the Archbishop from his time there. On a side note, I had never met more people from the Rochester area as I did in Europe.
So, now I continue to work for the Cause of Archbishop Sheen in Louisiana, and hopefully grow in knowledge enough to adequately represent him to those I meet.

Stephen Zaborowski, Advisory Council for the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What we do for Love

Archbishop Sheen once said, “…It does not take much time to make us saints—it only takes much love.”

These words are certainly true.  The cause for Archbishop Sheen’s sainthood was officially opened by the Diocese of Peoria in 2002.  In 2008, the diocesan phase of the cause was completed and 22 volumes of testimony were sent to Rome.  As we approach year 8 of the cause, I reflect back on the countless hours of work put in by Msgr. Richard Soseman, our former Episcopal delegate, our Bishop, Daniel Jenky, his staff, the staff of the Foundation, the many volunteers we have around the country and the world, and our Postulator in Rome, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi and his staff.  These wonderful people have dedicated time, finances, and prayer to this Cause.

While I know that the cause would not be where it is today without the hard work and hours of dedication, I know that the ultimate source of the progress is LOVE. The love of those working on the cause—the love they have for Bishop Sheen, for those he’s touched, for the Church, for the communion of saints, and for our Lord. 

Of course, we must not think that this cause is solely about those working on it. We know that above all this cause is about the man who changed the world for Christ, Archbishop Sheen.  The love that Archbishop Sheen had for Our Lord, His Church, and His children is what made him a candidate for sainthood.  Archbishop Sheen shared his love with all those he met.  He reached out to the hungry, the homeless and the sick, to sinners and saints, never hesitating to do whatever he could for those who asked (and even those who didn’t).

It is this love that has inspired so many to return to their faith, to join the Church, and to truly believe that life is worth living.

Let us never forget to do all things out of LOVE.  St. Therese of Lisieux said, “love is in the details.”  In all the little things we do, even simply handing someone a Bishop Sheen Holy Card, let us do it with great love in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

- Msgr. Stanley Deptula, Executive Director of the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation

Monday, July 12, 2010

EWTN mentions "Servant of All" film on website

We are excited that EWTN has posted a news story about "Servant of All" on their website.

New film on Archbishop Sheen coming to US screens

Archbishop Sheen is returning to the screen—this time, as a candidate for sainthood, and as the subject of the new film "Servant of All." The film, which documents the beloved evangelist's early rural upbringing and rise to international fame as a television and radio personality, will begin screening in cities across America this month. The documentary was produced by the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation to promote the archbishop's cause for canonization, and to showcase Sheen's personal virtues and evangelistic message for a new generation of viewers.
The Sheen Foundation has arranged seven screenings of "Servant of All" later this month --in California, Colorado, Indiana and New Jersey-- and is making arrangements to show the film in other cities across the U.S. throughout 2010.
The possible canonization of the archbishop, whose cause was launched in 2002, represents a milestone for the Church in the U.S., as no American-born member of the episcopate has yet been declared a saint.
Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R., an official advocate of Sheen's cause for sainthood, thinks his legacy is more crucial now than ever before. "We can't let his voice go silent," Fr. Apostoli said on the official website for the movie. "There's too much at stake."