Church Militant TV: Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Gala
“Bringing Christ to the Internet”
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With Christ increasingly edged out of the public square it would take something more than idle wishing to make “Bringing Christ to the Internet” an ongoing reality.
But that’s precisely what Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant TV tries to do on a daily basis, and he’d be the first to tell you that keeping the Gospel of Christ alive in the-everybody’s-got-a-boat-afloat “digital ocean” is not as easy as it sounds.
Canadian supporters, led by FM 98.5 CKWR radio host ‘Pipe Padre’ Al Smith, chose the vibrant spirit of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen for the “Bringing Christ to the Internet” 1st Annual Gala Dinner, Friday, April 5, at the Croatian Hall, Kitchener, Ont.
Voris points out in a recent ChurchMilitant TV YouTube that the Al Smith of “Bringing Christ to the Internet” is not the same one connected to the Al Smith Dinner presided over by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, but “the Al Smith of Canada”, who dedicates his life to the memory of the now sainthood-bound Archbishop Sheen.
And you don’t have to be at Kitchener’s Croatian Hall, on April 5 to watch “Bringing Christ to the Internet” unfold.
That’s because the dinner will be both physical and virtual, live-streamed in a Telethon over the Internet.
Virtual participants in the dinner are signing up for simultaneous pot luck suppers, at which they will pass the hat, before telephoning pledges in.
One can imagine the infectious grin of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whose spirit never left the realm and whose famous words “Unless souls are saved nothing is saved” live on to the present day.
Smith and Canadian colleagues chose wisely when they dedicated the 1st Gala dinner “Bringing Christ to the Internet” to the first Televangelist to call millions from daily routine to a New York-based television show, by sheer force of fervour and personality.
No one met more success in bringing Christ into the average home than Bishop Fulton Sheen in his day. The same folk who sometimes snoozed through Sunday sermons from the pulpit, or missed church altogether, were wide-awake alert when the bishop came into their living rooms, complete with vermillion cape and cap.
With straight-on gazes from his piercing dark eyes, talking hands making his points and sweeping cape, there was nothing boring beige about Bishop Sheen’s style or delivery.
Drawing some 30 million television viewers in post Second World War America, the bishop bested comedian Milton Berle who held the same time slot.
Holding an appeal to Protestants as well as Catholics, and those of other faiths, his brand of Fire and Brimstone, laced with humour, never held so many spellbound as long as it was the Bishop’s image and blackboard there on the television screen.
Delightfully self-deprecating, Bishop Sheen taught viewers it was not only okay but healthy to make fun of themselves before signing off with a longed-for reminder that “Life is worth living”.
A heckler once asked Bishop Sheen a question about someone who had died. The Bishop replied, “I will ask him when I get to Heaven.” The heckler replied “What if he isn’t in Heaven?” The Bishop replied: “Well then, you ask him.”
...”This very human man, who lived and worked in New York for much of his life, is on his way to becoming the first male American-born saint. The Vatican on Thursday officially recognized Archbishop Sheen for having “heroic virtues” and granted him the title “venerable.” A church committee will now determine whether it believes that, since his death, Archbishop Sheen has interceded on behalf of someone alive to bring about a miracle, a requirement for the next step on the path to canonization.” (New York Times, June 29, 2012).
...”Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who often appears on television, said:”Sainthood has come to the media age. In another couple of years we will have the first Twitter or Facebook saint.”
Disagreements, even among the clergy, have long been part of human nature and eventually Archbishop Sheen got into a public spat with Cardinal Francis Spellman, the then leader of New York’s archdiocese. The spat ended with the Archbishop’s reassignment to the Diocese of Rochester, which he saw as an exile. Retiring three years later, he spent his days on scholarly works and book writing.
No Saint comes delivered in the cellophane of perfection, and as much as his television image, people loved Archbishop Sheen all the more because he was as human as the rest of them.
Fervent prayers are riding on ChurchMilitant TV’s ability to bring and keep Christ on the Internet. The need is as pressing today as it was when the beloved Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen brought millions to Christ consciousness in the 1950s.
To use the last words Archbishop Sheen sent out to viewers after every television appearance, the same ones adopted by Michael Voris at the end of every ChurchMilitant YouTube: “God love you.”