Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Novena of Masses and Prayers Around the World

As the cause for his beatification continues, devotees of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen concluded an international novena to mark the 33rd anniversary of his holy death on December 9, 2012.   Msgr. Richard Soseman, Coordinator of International Outreach, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, Vice-Postulator, and Msgr. Stanley Deptula, Executive Director of the Sheen Foundation offered nine consecutive days of Masses. On December 5th, a special anniversary Mass was also offered in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick Cathedral, New York, NY by Fr. Andrew Small,OMI, National Director of the Propagation of the Faith which Sheen had directed for 16 years.

Msgr. Soseman began the Novena with a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome which was served by a student from Thomas More College in New Hampshire.  Msgr. Soseman stated the altar used portrays the doubting Thomas, who although he believed in our Lord, was overcome with doubt, and so needed physical proof.  We can tend to look down upon St. Thomas, but thank god he doubted as his need to prove his faith in Our Lord, reassures us when we are stumbling along the way.
Immaculate Conception Seminary Chapel Novena Mass
Msgr. Richard Soseman, who is a priest of Sheen's home diocese of Peoria, IL and currently works in the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, also offered a Mass that approximately 100 seminarians plus many faithful were in attendance for.  This special novena Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica.  In his homily, preached in Italian, Msgr. Soseman connected Venerable Fulton Sheen to Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a New Evangelization during this Year of Faith:  “As Bishop Sheen said, we can transform the world through ‘two hands and two knees,’ and through the daily Holy Hour.”  The sermon recalled the prophecy of St. John the Baptist, calling people to repentance to prepare the way of the Lord.  Soseman added: “In a similar way, we follow the example of Bishop Sheen, who God has provided in our own times, so that through our prayer and spreading of the faith in modern times, we may also prepare the Advent of Christ in souls.”
 Msgr. Brian Brownsey, Vocations Director of the Diocese of Peoria, presided at the official conclusion of the Novena in Sheen's home parish, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Peoria.  In his homily, Msgr. Brownsey said “Advent is a season of hope…Sheen’s show was Life is Worth Living, is there a more hopeful statement than that?”
Cathedral of St. Mary of The Immaculate Conception Peoria, IL
Sheen grew up in the Cathedral parish, attending the local Catholic grade school and Catholic high school.  In 1919, he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral and the next day offered his first solemn Mass of Thanksgiving.  The Cause for Sheen's beatification and canonization was officially opened by the Diocese of Peoria in 2002 and the Peoria Cathedral has hosted several celebrations over the years to mark the progress of the Cause. 

Most recently, a Mass of Thanksgiving was offered in the Cathedral in September to commemorate the title "Venerable" bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI this past June.  In December, 2011, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria, presided over the official conclusion of a diocesan inquiry into an alleged miraculous healing of a still born baby, reportedly through Sheen's intercession.  Also attending the Mass in Peoria for Sheen's 33rd anniversary was the child James Fulton and his mother Bonnie who said "My only intention for the Novena was that Sheen be Canonized."  The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of the Saints continues its own process of reviewing this alleged miracle.

Fulton Sheen died on December 9, 1979 at the entrance of his private chapel in his New York City apartment.