By Michael Kelly
DUBLIN (CNS) – An Irish artist commissioned to craft a bigger-than-life monument of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen for New York’s famous St. Malachy Church – The Actors’ Chapel hopes the work will inspire a new generation of devotees to the archbishop.
Dublin-based sculptor Dony MacManus is working on the 10-foot-tall piece, which it is hoped will be installed in the chapel in Manhattan’s theater district in early 2016.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin blessed the work in progress at a ceremony in the artist’s Dublin studio last month. MacManus told Catholic News Service he initially felt apprehensive revealing the work before it was finished, but that he has been delighted by early reactions.
Father Richard Baker, chapel pastor, traveled to Dublin with some parishioners for the ceremony. He was inspired to commission the monument because of Archbishop Sheen’s “special interest in the acting community” and the parish’s proximity to Broadway.
“I’ve really been excited by the subject because of his dynamic and the video footage,” the sculptor said. “One of the beauties of this (project) is that this gives new people access to the work and ministry of Archbishop Sheen.”
Father Baker said his parish felt that Archbishop Sheen was the “perfect person” to be commemorated at St. Malachy.
“We hope he will inspire spirituality in a community that needs that support, a community that works in an atmosphere that is severely anti-Catholic and drawing people away from the Faith rather than strengthening it,” he said.