Then-Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen is pictured in a portrait from the late 1930s or early 1940s. CNS photo/CUA archives
Then-Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen is pictured in a portrait from the late 1930s or early 1940s. CNS photo/CUA archives

WASHINGTON – Thanks to television and radio, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen touched countless Americans using the most advanced technology available to him.

Some years ago, The Catholic University of America in Washington, using the most advanced technology it had available, digitized its archives on Archbishop Sheen, as well as maintaining them on the university campus.

Virtually everything the university archives knows it possesses on the host of "The Catholic Hour" and other programs is online, save for the "positio," or official position paper. The copyrighted, two-volume set on the life and holiness of Archbishop Sheen, which includes his writings, was prepared for review at the Vatican's Congregation for Saints' Causes.

"They (the positio) are not shared widely while the cause is still proceeding," said Shane MacDonald, a special collections archivist with Catholic University's archives office, who added he believes there is no larger online archive of the late archbishop. The university's archive can be accessed at https://fulton-sheen.catholic.edu/at-cua/archive.html.

His sainthood cause was officially opened in 2003. In July, it was announced that Pope Francis had approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen, which led the way to the announcement he would be beatified Dec. 21. But the Vatican announced in early December that the beatification was being postponed.

MacDonald said other archives of Archbishop Sheen-related material exist.

In Peoria, Illinois, the prelate's home diocese, the Fulton Sheen Foundation maintains a larger archive than Catholic University, but it is not online. The Diocese of Rochester, N.Y. – which then-Bishop Sheen headed from October 1966 until his retirement in October 1969, when he received the title of archbishop – has much material on him, MacDonald added, but said much of it is unorganized.

The Archdiocese of New York also has archival material, as he had been an auxiliary bishop there, from 1951 to 1966, MacDonald said. The Library of Congress in Washington, he noted, has archives on Archbishop Sheen as well, including episodes of "The Catholic Hour," which aired 1930 to 1950 on NBC radio, and "Life Is Worth Living," but as copyrighted material, those can be seen or heard onsite only and cannot be borrowed.

Catholic University acquired its holdings largely from Archbishop Sheen himself. He had taught at the university from 1927 to 1950, and donated much of his lecture and class notes as both a professor and as a student at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

There also are books made from some of the archbishop's on-air homilies. One of MacDonald's favorites is simply titled "You."

MacDonald said Archbishop Sheen's archives were digitized based on the demand to view certain items. Archbishop Sheen, he added, is "an important figure in 20th-century American Catholicism."