Sheen on TV (copy)

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is pictured here on the set of “Life is Worth Living” in the early 1950s. In its April 14, 1952, edition, Time Magazine called Sheen “the first televangelist.’’

NEW YORK — Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is going home.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York said Sunday it’ll cooperate in transferring Sheen’s remains from Manhattan to Peoria, Illinois, after a court ruled Sheen’s niece could bury him there.

Sheen, known for his revolutionary radio and TV preaching, has been interred under St. Patrick’s Cathedral’s altar since his 1979 death.

Sheen’s niece, Joan Cunningham, argued that burying him in Peoria, where he was ordained 100 years ago, would improve his chances at sainthood.

The archdiocese countered that a will Sheen signed five days before his death included his desire to be buried in New York. The archdiocese said it had a “solemn obligation” to comply.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria said that Bishop Daniel Jenky was “grateful” the archdiocese has now agreed to move Sheen’s remains.

Sheen had deep Illinois roots, including local roots. He was born in El Paso in 1895 and moved to Peoria as a young boy. After graduating from high school in Peoria, he enrolled in St. Viator’s College in Bourbonnais (now Olivet Nazarene University) in 1913. During his years there, he began to earn a reputation for his keen speaking skills.

Jack Klasey, a noted local historian who writes a regular history column for the Daily Journal, included this information in a March 2, 2019, column he wrote about Sheen.

In the words of Bourbonnais historian Adrien Richard, Sheen was “a high-ranking student who had distinguished himself ... as a silver-tongued orator and who had made St. Viator College debating teams famous throughout the ranking universities in the country.”

In 2002, Sheen’s Cause for Canonization as a saint was officially opened under the leadership of the Diocese of Peoria.

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