One Step Closer To Sainthood

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen is officially one step closer to being declared a saint in the Catholic Church.

A seven-member theological commission in Rome unanimously agrees a miracle should be attributed to the intercession of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

The case for Sheen's sainthood now goes to a team of cardinals and bishops in Rome and then to Pope Francis, who could declare Sheen as Blessed. There's no set timetable for those next steps, although Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria tells 1470 & 100.3 WMBD, "It should go to the Pope by about October."

Sheen died in 1979 at the age of 84.

The miracle involves a baby born to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom in their Goodfield home in 2010 who was stillborn. The baby showed no signs of life for 61 minutes while doctors at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center worked to revive him. The parents prayed for Sheen's intercession into their child's health and the baby's heart started beating. The child, named James Fulton Engstrom, turns 4-years-old this September.

Earlier this year, a team of Vatican medical experts affirmed they could find no natural explanation for the child's healing.

Once the Pope announces Sheen will be beatified, Sheen would be declared "Blessed" in a ceremony that could be celebrated in Peoria.

Sheen was ordained a priest in Peoria. He later gained national recognition as a radio and TV evangelist for nearly four decades starting in 1930. Sheen won two Emmys as host of his "Life is Worth Living" program.

"We'll invite every bishop in America," Jenky says, "and bishops throughout the world. We kind of think a lot would come."

Before Sheen can be declared a saint, however, a second miracle will need to be proven. And, Jenky says, the Diocese will not be able to use any other miracles it's considered up to now.

"We can't save some in the back," Jenky says. "So the next one has to come in at least after it's announced (Sheen's) beatified."

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