by Alexis Walkenstein
That was the last thing I uttered when I was inside the crypt at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City at Christmastime 2008. I was praying to then-Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen, asking him for intercession with a litany of impossible prayer requests, three for others, and two for me. I closed my prayer with, ”If you help me with these intentions, I will promote you.”
That profound moment inside the crypt was a stand-out moment of so many things that have materialized through the intercession of America’s Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. It’s no coincidence with God that a whole ten years later, this desire to make this holy bishop in heaven known to a new generation has resulted in a published work: Ex Libris: Fulton J. Sheen which is set for release by Pauline Books & Media on April 1, 2018. So, why would a gal who considers herself more of a daughter of Saint John Paul II veer off with a devotion to a bishop saint-in-the-making from her parents’ generation?
Sometimes we choose the saints and intercessors we are attracted to and sometimes they choose us.
I was a diocesan communications director working in service to the Church amid a myriad of complexities, and Sheen became my “bishop in heaven” to help me serve my own bishop well and represent the Church to the media every day. He also helped me transition from a secular career in journalism to a more direct witness of evangelization for the Church.
It had been Pope John Paul II’s influence and intercession that moved me into a successful secular TV career and eventually out of TV. My last major assignment (working in local TV news in Boston) was covering Pope John Paul II’s death and funeral in Rome. Once I was there, God began to open my heart to consider laying that career down for something new. Almost immediately I was transitioned into a new assignment working for the Catholic Church. But it was Fulton J. Sheen whose hand of intercession met my day-to-day needs in this new field of work in service to a bishop and on the other side of the media firing line.
I was also attracted to Sheen’s teachings about marriage in Three to Get Married. Next to St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Sheen’s writings on marriage made me aware of his particular pastoral care for this sacrament, something I desired in my own life. In a culture that celebrates hook-up culture and Pinterest wedding phenomenon over the mystical union of a man and women in a holy sacrament, Sheen became my countercultural heavenly prayer warrior for all the things that make living in the world but not of the world a challenge for faithful Catholics. Today’s throwaway culture has escalated: 50 percent of people in the United States alone are single, and fewer people today are making lasting, meaningful connections that lead to a holy sacrament. Sheen’s intercession is needed now more than ever.
One of my prayers inside the crypt that December day was that, after a period of time of service suitable to our Lord, and when the diocese was in good shape, I would be re-established (if it be his will) to a career in media in the way that he designed, for his glory. I prayed that it would be better than I imagined, and that having left all, I would not have lost anything in this period of service to the Church.
This seemed impossible to me because it was such a shift, and I felt like no one could see me because I was in such a cocoon inside the heart of the Church—or, if they did, they’d just see “church work.” If anyone had ever told me that praying in the crypt in that way, asking Bishop Sheen’s intercession, would lead me straight to Hollywood, I would have laughed out loud! God and Fulton Sheen both have a sense of humor.
I now manage my own media and marketing firm and represent movies, TV shows, books, and personalities in the faith and family market. I work with major film studios, press, actors, and the Church. I host a weekly radio show called Mary’s Touch that airs on over 60 Catholic stations around the world. Sheen’s hand moved the needle directly in ways I could not have maneuvered on my own. But it makes sense. If the world needs more of the Gospel, and if Sheen was a master at communicating that Gospel on every medium of his time, why would he not help communicators and entertainment professionals of today?
It was through this film work a few years ago that I took a small PR project helping out an actor/producer in Hollywood. At that time, God spoke to my heart and instructed me, “don’t take any money... help this man and watch what I do for you.” At the conclusion of that tiny PR blitz, I was invited to take on this publishing project.
In His goodness, God made it easy for me to keep my promise to “promote” Bishop Sheen. He also let me see the direct connection of Fulton J. Sheen’s sway in heaven on my behalf as the divine force behind all my movements, all the way to LA. I hope you will sign up for my Pauline Mini-Series on Fulton J. Sheen called Lift Your Heart. Use the coupon code SHEEN20 to get 20% off a copy of Ex Libris: Fulton J. Sheen and invite him into your life!
Available for purchase now. Shipping April 1.