Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Feb
  • 2

WQPH hosts Fr. Apostoli at fundraiser

Posted By February 2, 2012 | 1:29 pm | Local

By Tanya Connor

FITCHBURG – “There’s no Saint Fulton,” came the objection,  when Peter John Sheen’s grandfather signed him up for school using the boy’s mother’s maiden name.
“Not yet,” came the response.
When Peter, who went by Fulton, grew up, he said America needed a saint, a homegrown one from the heartland.
He himself – now known as Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen – is the saint needed now.
Father Andrew Apostoli told this story and shared this belief with more than 100 people gathered at St. Joseph Parish Saturday.
A Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, Father Apostoli was ordained by Archbishop Sheen in 1967, and is vice postulator of the archbishop’s cause for canonization.
On Sept. 14, 2002 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints conferred on Archbishop Sheen the title Servant of God. On April 15, 2008, the cause for his beatification and canonization officially opened.
Father Apostoli’s talk after a Mass he celebrated, and a spaghetti supper, was a benefit for WQPH 89.3 FM radio, a station Catholics are trying to start locally on the property of the former Madonna of the Holy Rosary Church.
A kickoff for the radio station was to be held there yesterday, with talks by Bishop McManus and David Vacheresse, general manager of EWTN Global Catholic Radio, according to Mary Ann Harold, founder and director of the national apostolate Prayers For Life. She said the Federal Communications Commission granted Massachusetts Prayers For Life the license for the radio station. WQPH, which stands for Queen of Perpetual Help, is hoping to begin broadcasting this summer, she said.
“If we achieve our financial goal of raising $75,000, the target date is June,” she said.
While here from his Yonkers home Father Apostoli, who speaks on EWTN television programs, did a “meet and greet” for the radio station Sunday at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Lancaster Street in Leominster, Mrs. Harold said.
“The greatest glory one can give to God is for a person to spread their faith,” Mrs. Harold said. This radio station will do just that.
Saturday at St. Joseph’s Father Apostoli encouraged listeners to donate to WQPH, spoke of evangelization via radio, especially when people are driving, and talked about Archbishop Sheen’s popular radio and television ministry.
There was a time when it wouldn’t have seemed possible that he would become a popular public speaker. The boy born in 1895 in El Paso, Ill., joined the debate team while at St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, Ill.
As he was preparing to compete against the famed Notre Dame, he was told, “You are not good at public speaking,” Father Apostoli said. When asked, after repeated practice, what he thought he was doing wrong, he replied, “I think I’m not being myself.” (St. Viator beat Notre Dame.)
Years later, when he was praised for his public speaking, Archbishop Sheen asserted that his power came from his daily hour before the Blessed Sacrament, Father Apostoli said.
He promised God that hour upon being ordained a priest Sept. 20, 1919, having been inspired by the story of a little girl in China.
The child saw Hosts thrown on the floor by perscuters of the Church. As laity were not allowed to touch them, she knelt and licked them up while the guard slept. The last night he heard her and beat her to death. A priest under house arrest saw her devotion.
If the girl could do that, Archbishop Sheen reasoned, he could spend an hour a day in the presence of the Eucharist.
“That became his ‘hour of power,’” Father Apostoli said. He did it because Jesus requested it of his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to be transformed in Christ’s presence, and to make reparation.
Once, upon arriving at his destination at 2:30 a.m., he asked not for a bed, but for the church, Father Apostoli said. If a church was locked, he’d stand outside, looking through a crack at the tabernacle.
One of his television shows was the same time as that of the famed comedian Milton Berle, and it was assumed no one would watch the archbishop, Father Apostoli said. But the latter attracted millions of viewers and won an Emmy in his second year.
He made an estimated 52,000 converts, including Communist Louis Budenz, whom he once called “to talk about the state of your soul,” Father Apostoli said said. He said seven years later the man called the archbishop back saying he was ready for the conversation.
Archbishop Sheen, who served the diocese of Rochester from 1966 to 1969, also did much studying, teaching and writing, was National Director of the Propagation of the Faith, and participated in Vatican Council II. He died in 1979.
Speaking of Archbishop Sheen’s potential as an American saint, Father Apostoli said, “He, with his teaching, will help pick us up from the mess.” He said the archbishop was not politically correct; he figured if you want people to grow, you tell them what they need to hear.
“This is a great time to be alive,” Father Apostoli said, quoting Archbishop Sheen. “We can no longer take anything for granted in America. Rather, you have to stand up and take sides in a world that no longer sees the suffering face of Christ.”
Father Apostoli said Archbishop Sheen was like Pope John Paul II, who, when asked what Scripture he would point people to, replied, “The truth will set you free.”

– Anyone wishing to support the effort to  build the radio station can contact Mary Ann Harold at Prayers for Life, P.O. Box 589, Medford, MA 02155.