November 28, 2008

Altar boy’s good deed leads to encounter with possible saint

175th Anniversary Logo(Editor’s note: To help mark the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, The Criterion is inviting readers to share stories and memories of how their Catholic faith and the Church in central and southern Indiana have shaped their lives. This week, we feature a story about a boy meeting a priest who would become famous across the United States and the world, a priest who is being considered for canonization. The story is from Ray Hill, 88, a lifelong member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis.)

“In 1935, I had served 7 a.m. Mass at St. John’s. Father [Edwin] Sahm asked me to stick around to serve a funeral Mass.

“While waiting, I took a walk in the schoolyard and then to Union Station. At Union Station, I saw a priest who had just deboarded a train. I asked the priest if he was looking for St. John’s Church, and he said he was.

“I offered to carry the priest’s suitcase and walked the two blocks to St. John’s with him. I took the priest into the sacristy, showed him around and prepared to serve Mass for him.

“Father Sahm later asked me if I knew who the visiting priest was. It was Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen. I served Mass for Msgr. Sheen on the three days of his visit.

“Fast forward to many years later when I was visiting the Gary Diocese. Msgr. Van Nevel said he had a surprise for me. He then introduced me to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen!

“I said to the archbishop, ‘We don’t need an introduction.’ I then reminded the archbishop of his visit to St. John’s in 1935. The archbishop said, ‘You were the boy who met me, carried my suitcase and took me to St. John’s!’ ”

(If you have a story or a memory to share, we would love to receive them. Please send it to The Criterion, P.O. Box 1400, Indianapolis, IN 46206. Or you can e-mail your story to Please include the words “Anniversary Story” on the envelope or in the e-mail heading. We ask that you try to keep your story to 250 words or less.) †

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