The following is an article from the Peoria (IL) Journal Star newspaper on July 24, 2006, page A1 and A5.


El Paso native will be considered for sainthood


Paperwork claiming late archbishop performed miracle is sent to Rome





PEORIA - Copies of a report on an alleged miracle that took place in 1999 through the intercession of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen were signed and sealed Sunday by Roman Catholic Church officials.

The 500-page report and supporting documents will now be delivered to Rome by canon lawyer Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the cause to have Sheen recognized as a saint. There, Anibrosi will argue to a Vatican panel that this case and another being prepared in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are evidence of Sheen's sainthood.

Sheen, who was born in the Woodford County town of El Paso in 1895 and ordained in the Diocese of Peoria in 1909, went on to become a celebrity through his television programs in the 1950s and 1960s explaining the Catholic faith. He died on Dec. 9, 1979.

The effort to have him recognized as a saint was officially started in 2003.

The case that was investigated and sent off to Rome on Sunday occurred in 1999. A Champaign woman then 72 years old was undergoing lung surgery when a tear was discovered in her main pulmonary artery, according to the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation. The woman's husband told investigators he prayed for his wife's recovery "continually invoking Bishop Sheen."

The woman, who is still alive, survived the surgery and "suffered no later ill effects from the tear."

Details of the case were not given out, though they will later be made public, when Ambrosi argues in support of the case before a tribunal in Rome. Fourteen witnesses, including doctors and family members, were interviewed.

Several documents finalizing the investigation were signed at a ceremony Sunday by Ambrosi and diocesan officials, including vicar general Monsignor Paul Showalter and Monsignor Richard Soseman, who is heading up the Sheen effort for the Diocese of Peoria. Two of the case's three copies and supporting documents were boxed up, with a letter identifying the contents glued to the top and red ribbon tied around the container. The box, ribbon and letter were then sealed together in wax by Showalter as several members of the Sheen family looked on.

The other copy will remain in Peoria.

With Soseman translating, Ambrosi said he thought the case was a good one.

The canon lawyer, who has worked on hundreds of sainthood causes including Pope John XXIII’s, also said it is "very early" in such an effort to have two claims of miracles already.

There are still several more steps that have to be taken before Sheen can be recognized as a saint, however, including beatification by the Catholic Church and further investigation of how holy his life was.

The Rev Andrew Apostoli, vice postulator of the Sheen cause who lives in New York, said he knows of at least four other claims of miraculous intercession by Sheen.

Showalter was moved by the significance of the ceremony, held in the Sheen Pastoral Center.

"You think of the long history of the church and of saints and the fact this is being done in the Diocese of Peoria," he said. "It's special and kind of unbelievable that we're able to be part of a rich tradition like this."



Michael Miller can be reached at 686-3106 or




(caption to photo)


Vicar General Monsignor Paul Showalter and Heather Milligan, assistant to canon lawyer Andrea Ambrosi, on Sunday wrap a 500-page report and supporting documents of an alleged miracle that took place through the intercession of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen as other officials look on. The package will now be sent to Rome.