by Jay Chin
James Fulton Engstrom was delivered stillborn three years ago. There was little oxygen in his blood and his heart was not beating. James’s mother, Bonnie Engstrom, prayed for Venerable Fulton Sheen’s intercession for sixty-one minutes after which her son finally began to breathe. After three years of investigation, in March of 2014, a group made up of seven medical experts have claimed that there is no natural cause for James’s revival.
When the boy was delivered at the Engstrom residence, he was given CPR for twenty minutes until the ambulance arrived. The medics from the ambulance administered two shots of epinephrine; but that too was to no avail. At the hospital, the doctor, unaware that the child had at no point a heartbeat since delivery, decided to continue to try to revive him for five more minutes. “If he had known about the previous forty minutes, he would have just called it.” reported Mrs. Engstrom. But after sixty-one minutes, as they were about to call it off, his heart started beating at 148 BPM, which is healthy for a newborn and not what one would expect from a previously stillborn child. James has grown up completely healthy with five brothers and sisters.
The medical report has been sent to the Vatican. There it will be reviewed by a board of theologians. If they approve of the miracle as well, then it will be sent to Pope Francis, who can then proclaim that God has worked a miracle through Venerable Fulton Sheen and proclaim him Blessed Fulton Sheen.
Fulton Sheen was born in 1895 in El Paso, Illinois, to an Irish Catholic family. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1919, after which he continued with his studies at the Catholic University of America, the Catholic University of Leuven, where he received a Ph.D. in Thomistic Philosophy, and the Angelicum in Rome, where he earned his Sacred Theology Doctorate. As a priest, his ministry was mainly teaching. He first taught in a few colleges in England, spent a while in Peoria, IL as a pastor, and then was sent to CUA. “[S]tudents would jam his lecture hall, even sitting on radiators, window sills and stairs, just to hear him speak,” said Msgr. Richard Soseman in an interview with Catherine Black. In 1930, he began his radio program Catholic Hour, which received between 3,000 to 6,000 listeners every week. In 1951, he was consecrated bishop and served as Auxiliary Bishop of New York. Later that year, he began his famed television program Life Is Worth Living, filmed in the Adelphi Theatre in Manhattan. Bishop Sheen received an Emmy Award in 1952 for his charisma and the power of his preaching. The program ended in 1957, after which Bishop Sheen became the director of the United States branch of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He served there for eight years before being appointed as Bishop of Rochester, New York in 1966. Between 1961 and 1968, he filmed The Fulton Sheen Hour, a continuation of Life is Worth Living. His active role as a television personality for nearly two decades earned him the title of one of the first televangelists. These programs are still syndicated on various Catholic networks and even a few Protestant ones. After resigning in October of 1969, he was made titular Archbishop of Newport. Archbishop Sheen continued writing and gave a series of lectures which he requested be recorded and distributed worldwide. These lectures were distributed by Ministr-O-Media, which garnered over a quarter of a million U.S. dollars for charity through the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. Bishop Sheen passed away in 1979 due to heart disease.
Bishop Sheen’s Cause for Canonization was opened in 2002 by the Diocese of Peoria. Bishop Jenky of Peoria appointed Msgr. Richard Soseman as the Episcopal Delegate for the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whose job it was to gather as much information on the life of Archbishop Sheen as possible. In 2013, Servant of God Fulton Sheen was proclaimed by the Vatican as a man of heroic virtue, exemplifying the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, and was proclaimed Venerable. It is expected that the miracle will be approved and so Ven. Fulton Sheen will be one step closer to canonization.