PEORIA, Ill.—A Dec. 11 Mass in Peoria, Ill., marked the official conclusion of an investigation tribunal into an alleged miracle that many attribute to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Since Sept. 7, the tribunal has looked into the alleged miraculous healing of James Fulton Engstrom, a 1-year-old born without a pulse last year, whose parents credit his survival to the late archbishop.
The Mass, open to members of the public, was held at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, where Archbishop Sheen was an altar server when he was a boy.
Official tribunal documents were sealed at the Mass by Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria and Msgr. Stanley Deptula. Msgr. Deptula is the executive director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, which is the official promoter of the archbishop’s cause for sainthood.
The documents will now be shipped to the Vatican for consideration.
If the alleged miracle is approved by the Pope, U.S. Catholics could witness the first-ever beatification on American soil in the Diocese of Peoria, said the foundation.
On Sept. 16, 2010, Bonnie Engstrom and her husband, Travis, prayed fervently to Archbishop Sheen after she delivered a stillborn son.
The baby, whom they named James Fulton after the archbishop, had no pulse for 61 minutes after he was born.
As doctors prepared to declare the time of death, however, his heart started beating. Although the physicians predicted serious medical problems, James Fulton is now a happy, healthy 1-year-old.
In addition to serving as an auxiliary bishop of New York and bishop of Rochester, N.Y., Archbishop Sheen was best known for his weekly radio broadcast, The Catholic Hour, and his later weekly television program, Life Is Worth Living.
The archbishop died in 1979, and his cause for sainthood was opened in 2002.
A second approved miracle will be necessary before Archbishop Sheen, currently called a Servant of God, will be declared a saint.