xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Memories of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Memories of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

"Do you know the way to...?"

I first became aware of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen when I was in primary school at Christian Brothers, Highgate, in the late 1940s. He was Monsignor Fulton Sheen when he visited Australia around 1949 to participate in a major church celebration in Melbourne. At the time he was undoubtedly the most famous Catholic speaker in the world. He had his own hugely popular television programme which even out rated that of the famous American comedian, Milton Berle.

Berle used to quip that, “Monsignor Sheen has better ratings than me because he has a more influential sponsor.” while at the same time soulfully raising his eyes to the heavens.

Sheen’s visit aroused great interest throughout Australia. My Grade 5 teacher in those days was Brother Kevin John O’Brien, who had somehow or other managed to get tape recordings of several of the talks that Bishop Sheen gave while he was visiting Melbourne. My classmates and I listened to Bishop Sheen’s stories with great interest. He had a wonderful speaking voice and he interspersed his talks with humorous anecdotes that amused us all.

One in particular I have remembered over all these years. While in Melbourne Monsignor Sheen was in great demand as a speaker. He agreed to address a public meeting which was to be held in the Brunswick Town Hall. He was given rudimentary directions as to how to get there but, after getting off the tram in Brunswick, he could not see any sign of a building looking remotely like the Brunswick Town Hall.

At length he decided to ask a young boy who was very loudly selling The Herald afternoon newspaper on a street corner. According to Archbishop Sheen this is what happened next.

“Excuse me, young man, could you please tell me the way to the Brunswick Town Hall?”

“What do you want to go there for?’ enquired the brash youngster.

“Well I have to get there because I have been invited to give a talk to a lot of people.”

“What about?” asked the curious interrogator.

“Well, I want to talk to them about God,”

“Why do you want to talk to them about God?”

“Well, I want to talk to them about God because I want to tell them how to get to heaven.”

The young paper boy looked up at the man in the black suit and the crimson vest and laughed, “That’s really very funny, Mister. You want to tell all those people how to get to heaven and you don’t even know how to get to the Brunswick Town Hall.”

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