For decades, U.S. Catholics who remember Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s radio and television programs, and who are concerned about the decline in church membership and Mass attendance, have said, “What we need is another Bishop Sheen!”
Thanks to Pope Francis, we may have found him. On Tuesday, July 21, our Holy Father named Fr. Robert Barron an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Bishop-elect Barron, 55, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the face and voice of Word on Fire – a ministry focused on evangelization.
Expecting a bishop to become “another Bishop Sheen” may seem unfair, but Bishop-elect Barron may well be up to the challenge. Consider what the bishop-elect has in common with the most influential Catholic in the history of TV: he is academically accomplished, gifted with an engaging personality, media savvy, and already has a following due to his books and videos.
As auxiliaries do, Bishop-elect Barron noted that his first allegiance is to the archbishop of Los Angeles and to the people of that archdiocese. That could well be, but one has to think that Pope Francis might have had a larger group in mind for the new bishop’s ministry, just as Pope Pius XII might have had a larger constituency in mind for Auxiliary Bishop Sheen when, in 1951, he appointed him to serve in the Archdiocese of New York.
If church leadership is serious about evangelization in the United States, they will encourage and support ¬— on as large of a scale as possible — Bishop-elect Barron’s ministry, knowing that, like Archbishop Sheen, he will touch and inspire millions of hearts and souls. I don’t see/hear anyone else capable of doing that.
Always in season: During my recent Evangelization Road Trip, I noticed that members of a Methodist church in Uniontown, Pa., must figure there’s no sense waiting to spread the word. They have a huge sign in front of their church that reads, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
Can’t blame ’em. Given how soon retailers will inundate us with their version of Christmas, we might as well get the word out early and often.
Food, glorious food: Tuesday, July 28, is National Chocolate Milk Day; Wednesday is Lasagna Day; and Thursday is Cheesecake Day.