Wonderful news! The Holy Father has declared two people with very close ties to the Archdiocese of New York to be “Venerable,” meaning that they lived lives of recognized heroic virtue, and are now on their formal way to possible beatification and canonization.
One you probably know – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, buried below the altar at Saint Patrick’s. The other new “Venerable” you may not be as familiar with, Sister Mary Angeline Teresa, the foundress of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirmed.
Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa was born in Ireland, and joined the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order dedicated to caring for the destitute aged. Her congregation sent her to work in the Bronx, where she felt an urge to do more for the aged in her care. She sought the advice of the then Archbishop of New York, Patrick Cardinal Hayes, who encouraged her to care for the elderly throughout all of New York City and the United States. With the Cardinal’s blessing, she founded what eventually became known as the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirmed. Their ministry has had a profound impact on many elderly men and women who get the very best care in a loving, dignified, environment. Many of you have heard of the Mary Manning Walsh home here in New York, for instance, one of the many excellent nursing homes founded by Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, and still served by her Carmelite Sisters. Sister died in 1984, and is buried at their Motherhouse in Germantown, New York, which is part of the Albany diocese.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, which is spearheading the cause for his sainthood. But, Archbishop Sheen was also very intimately linked with New York, where he lived and worked for most of his life, becoming “Preacher to the World” – as he was called by Pope John Paul II – through his many years of working in radio, television, and for the missions, before being named Bishop of Rochester.
Father Andrew Small, OMI, one of Archbishop Sheen’s successors as President of the National Society for the Propagation of the Faith, commented today, “As head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966, the Venerable Fulton Sheen was heroic in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ far and wide – from Peoria to Pretoria; New York to New Delhi. He teaches us still that the Church is missionary by her very nature.”
In my homily in 2009 on the 30th Anniversary of his death, I had this to say about Archbishop Sheen:
“Fulton J. Sheen wanted to get to heaven.
Fulton J. Sheen wanted to bring all of us with him.
Fulton J. Sheen wanted to be a saint.
Fulton J. Sheen wanted us to be saints, too.
His pivotal insight, central to revelation, was that Jesus Christ was the way to heaven, the truth about how to get there, the life we hope to share for all eternity.”
Today’s announcement from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints about these two newly declared Venerables, each very much in tune with today’s world, show that Archbishop Sheen and Sister Mary Angeline Teresa are still hard at work helping show us the way to heaven.