Relics of two Catholic giants coming to NY

Relics of two significant Catholic figures will soon be coming to the New York area.

On Sept. 23, Archbishop Dolan will bless the first U.S. shrine dedicated to Cardinal John Henry Newman at the Church of Our Savior in New York City.

This will be only a few days after the pope beatifies Newman in England. That’s a big step toward possible sainthood.

The shrine will include a relic — a piece of Newman’s remains.

Newman was a priest in the Church of England who converted to Catholicism in 1845. He is much beloved by his fans for his intellectual approach to faith and his clear, powerful writing.

One week later, on Sept. 30, a relic of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian order, will be at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw-Stony Point. There will be a day-long youth rally and Dolan will celebrate Mass in the evening.

The relic (in this case, known to be an arm bone) will also be at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Oct. 1 and 2.

The relic is the middle of a five-year trip around the world to celebrate the Salesians’ 150th anniversary and Bosco’s 200th birthday. Here’s a full explanation from Father Mike Mendl of the Salesians’ Eastern Province, based in New Rochelle:


St. John Bosco, very often called simply Don Bosco, was an Italian saint (1815-1888), apostle of young people, founder of a religious congregation of men (priests, brothers) whom he called the Salesians (after St. Francis de Sales as patron) and a congregation of sisters called the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians—commonly called the Salesian Sisters.  He also sent out missionaries to Latin America; today the Salesians are in 136 countries and are the second-largest order of religious men in the Catholic Church (about 16,000 in number), and the sisters are the largest order of women (about 14,000).

Last year our superiors started a relic from the body of Don Bosco on a trip around the world that will take over five years to complete, visiting every province (geographical division) of the Salesian world.  The occasion for this pilgrimage is to link the 150th anniversary of the Salesians (last December) and the 200th anniversary of Don Bosco’s birth (2015) while stirring up a renewed fervor for the spirit and apostolic work of Don Bosco (young people, missions, etc.), and among the Salesians themselves a rededication to our religious consecration, ideals, and mission to the young.

Catholics honor the relics of the saints as reminders that the saints were human beings like us, and we can imitate their virtues, welcome God’s grace, and become saints too.  In honoring the saints we honor God, who worked through them.

Insofar as some relics of saints are from their bodies (as distinguished from objects that they used), we also pay respect to the human body that will be raised up on the Last Day, as Jesus was raised from the dead.  The just will share in the eternal life of Christ.

Mass to honor Fulton Sheen

I was only a few years old when Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s TV career ended, so I never saw his show.

But so many people have told me about the influence of Sheen’s TV ministry that I almost feel like I was there (it helps that I’ve seen old clips of the show).

1951-bishop sheen during first broadcast of life is worth living-3This Wednesday (Dec. 9) will be the 30th anniversary of Sheen’s death. A memorial Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at St. Patrick’s, with Archbishop Dolan presiding. It will be televised live on EWTN.

Dolan recently said that he is modeling himself a bit on Sheen, which is no surprise, given Dolan’s comfort level with the media.

Sheen is buried in the crypt under the main altar of St. Patrick’s. On Wednesday, the crypt will be opened to the faithful from 3 to 5 p.m., right before the Mass.

Since 2002, the Vatican has been considering Sheen for sainthood. If he makes it, he would be the first American-born bishop-saint.

Sheen is most famous for his show “Life is Worth Living,” which aired on Tuesday nights from 1951 to 1957, getting up to 30 million viewers a week.

He also had a syndicated series, “The Fulton Sheen Program,” which aired from 1961 to 1968.

Before TV, he had a two-decade radio career that started in 1930. And he’s credited with writing 73 books.

Watch him condemn communism here:

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ADD: A reader brought to my attention an old clip of Sheen appearing on the TV game show “What’s My Line.” A panel of blind-folded celebrities had to guess Sheen’s identity by asking him questions.

It’s a hoot to watch.

Once the panel confirms that the mystery guest appears on TV — but works for a non-profit — one panelist offers: “Weekly on television and non-profit? You have a crazy sponsor.”

She gets a big laugh.

Sheen eventually asks for his winnings to go to leper colonies run by the Vatican.

Here’s the clip: