Fulton Sheen’s remains have been transferred from the crypts of Saint Patrick’s in New York to Peoria in Illinois, reopening his cause for canonization.
In 2002, the cause for canonization of Archbishop Sheen was opened by the Diocese of Peoria after the Archdiocese of New York stated they would not explore a cause. In 2014, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended the cause for beatification on grounds that the Holy See would expect Sheen’s remains to be in Peoria.
In 2016, Joan Sheen Cunningham – niece and closest living relative to Sheen – requested his remains be moved to further his cause for sainthood after Bishop Jenky’s decision. The Archdiocese of New York began a prolonged legal battle with Cunningham, however their latest appeal was denied clearing the way for the transfer of the remains.
Earlier this month, the New York Court of Appeals handed down their ruling denying the final appeal to keep Archbishop Sheen’s remains in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York Joseph Zwilling confirmed their cooperation:
“In light of the court’s denial of further appeal, the Trustees of Saint Patrick and the Archdiocese will work cooperatively with Mrs. Cunningham and the Diocese of Peoria to arrange for the respectful transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s mortal remains.”
Yesterday, Bishop Jenky announced that Sheen’s remains had been transferred from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC to Peoria in Illinois.
“Church law requires that the transfer of the remains of one considered for beatification must be done without any solemnity. As a result, the transfer could not be publicized in advance. Also, no liturgical ceremony or public gathering could be held during the transfer. Therefore, the transfer of the remains was done without prior public notice.”
The Diocese of Peoria also announced that the cause for canonization for Venerable Sheen has been resumed.
“Bishop Jenky has notified the Vatican indicating that civil litigation has ended and that Sheen’s remains have been transferred. The Vatican has confirmed that the Cause for Beatification has now resumed.”
Around 4:45 a.m., Joan Sheen Cunningham gathered early in the morning at Saint Patrick’s with church officials and funeral home workers. Disinterred from the under the main altar, Sheen’s remains were taken to LaGuardia airport and flown to Chicago O’Hare. They will be housed inside a marble monument near a side altar Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Peoria.
Read Bishop Jenky’s full statement below:
“Most Rev. Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, is happy to announce that the remains of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen have been transferred from St. Patrick Cathedral, New York, to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Peoria. Bishop Jenky is also happy to announce that the Cause for Beatification has resumed.
Earlier this month, on June 7, 2019, the three-year long legal litigation concerning the transfer of Sheen’s remains ended when the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, rejected the final appeal of the Archdiocese of New York. Shortly after this ruling, the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria cooperated in arranging for the transfer. This transfer followed civil law and Church law. The proper civil permits for the transfer were secured. Church law requires that the transfer of the remains of one considered for beatification must to be done without any solemnity. As a result, the transfer could not be publicized in advance. Also, no liturgical ceremony or public gathering could be held during the transfer. Therefore, the transfer of the remains was done without prior public notice.
Early this morning, June 27, 2019, Joan Sheen Cunningham, niece of Venerable Archbishop Sheen, and Patricia Gibson, Chancellor and Attorney for the Diocese of Peoria, along with funeral home and cemetery personnel, gathered at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York. The remains of Sheen were disinterred from the basement crypt under the main altar at St. Patrick Cathedral. Sheen’s remains were immediately taken to LaGuardia airport and flown to O’Hare airport to be transported to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria.
The remains will be encased into a marble monument inside the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria. Venerable Archbishop Sheen’s new tomb is located at the side altar dedicated to the Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Patricia Gibson was appointed as the official witness of the disinterment and transfer of the remains as required by the Vatican and Church law. Patricia Gibson stated:
After working eighteen years with Bishop Jenky on the Cause for Beatification, it was a great privilege and honor to be present and witness the transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s remains to his home cathedral in Peoria where he served Mass as a youth and was ordained priest 100 years ago. Now that the three years of legal litigation has ended, I am grateful that the Archdiocese of New York cooperated with this transfer. I am excited for the next steps in the Cause and pray that a beatification will happen very soon.
Now that the remains have been transferred to Peoria, the Cause for his Beatification has resumed. Bishop Jenky has notified the Vatican indicating that civil litigation has ended and that Sheen’s remains have been transferred. The Vatican has confirmed that the Cause for Beatification has now resumed.
The Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome will present the alleged miracle to Pope Francis for his decree authenticating the miracle attributed to Sheen’s intercession. This alleged miracle involved the miraculous healing of a newborn infant who was without vital signs for over sixty minutes.
Following the decree of the miracle from Pope Francis, an additional decree from Pope Francis will call for the Beatification of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. After the Holy Father calls for the Beatification, the Diocese of Peoria will work with the Congregation of the Causes of Saints to organize the Beatification celebration, which would take place in Peoria. According to the current practice of the Vatican, a Beatification is celebrated in the local diocese where the Cause was instructed. Once the date for the Beatification is granted by Pope Francis, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, would come to Peoria to preside at the ceremony.
Although the date of Beatification is not known at this time, Bishop Jenky hopes and prays that these decrees from Rome will be issued in the coming weeks. Bishop Jenky continues to be hopeful that Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen will be Beatified during this 100th anniversary year of his ordination to the priesthood in Peoria. Everyone is encouraged to continue offering prayers for the Beatification of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Bishop Jenky invites everyone to visit the new tomb of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen in the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria. Soon a permanent schedule of Cathedral hours will be published. But, for this weekend, the Cathedral will be open at these times:
Friday, June 28: 2pm to 4pm
Saturday, June 29: 10am to 2pm
Sunday, June 30: 9am to 2pm”