A Catholic Media Legacy: The Pectoral Cross of Ven. Fulton Sheen
Here at CatholicTV, we are eagerly preparing for the August 24 Mass of Ordination for Bishop-elect Mark O’Connell and our own Bishop-elect Robert Reed as Auxiliary Bishops of Boston. The Archdiocese of Boston will be blessed to have these two devoted servants of God assisting Cardinal Seán O’Malley in their new roles as Auxiliary Bishops. Those roles are certain to be busy ones, but fortunately, for Bishop-elect Reed, that will include staying on at CatholicTV.
Bishop-elect Reed will not be television’s first bishop, however. The most influential figure in the history of Catholic television, and arguably in Catholic media, is Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Starting in 1930, Archbishop Sheen hosted a radio program called The Catholic Hour, which ran until 1950. Then, in 1951, he began his iconic television show, Life Is Worth Living, which had an audience of more than 30 million people. Archbishop Sheen helped bring countless people closer to Christ through his preaching, writing, and media-based evangelization.
Like Archbishop Sheen, Bishop-elect Reed has made television and new media central to his mission of evangelization. But the connection goes even deeper than that: in fact, on the day of Bishop-elect Reed’s consecration, he will wear Archbishop Sheen’s own pectoral cross. This pectoral cross, a simple silver crucifix, was worn by Archbishop Sheen almost exclusively toward the end of his life. Bishop-elect Reed requested to wear this cross because of his devotion and admiration for Archbishop Sheen, and the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation was kind enough to lend it for the Ordination.
Bishop-elect Reed reflects here on the opportunity to wear Archbishop Sheen’s cross and its deep personal meaning for him.
Archbishop Sheen, who died in 1979, is now officially considered “Venerable,” which is a major step toward beatification. The miraculous recovery of a stillborn baby has also been attributed to his intercession, which strengthens his cause for beatification. As Bishop-elect Reed follows Archbishop Sheen’s example in Catholic media, symbolized by his wearing the pectoral cross, we pray that Archbishop Sheen will intercede on behalf of all those using media to spread the Gospel.