Frank Sheed was one of the most eminent Catholic evangelists of the twentieth century. Through a stream of books, lectures, and the great publishing house he founded with his wife, Maisie Ward, he did much to elevate the level of Catholic culture in England and America.
Sheed was born in Sydney, Australia, but immigrated to England after completing a law degree. Having ardently embraced the Catholicism of his Irish mother, he took seriously the imperative to spread the faith. In London he took up with the Catholic Evidence Guild, a group of laypeople who literally stood on soapboxes in Hyde Park to defend the Catholic faith. Its members had to be steeped in theology, philosophy, and Catholic history, and prepared to answer any possible challenge. The best of them were also equipped with wit and grace in deflecting hostile hecklers. Sheed was one of the best. It was there that he met his wife, the scion of a distinguished Catholic family. Soon after their marriage they founded Sheed & Ward, inaugurating a golden age of Catholic publishing with authors such as Ronald Knox, G. K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, and Caryll Houselander. They later brought their publishing house to America.
In writing on theology, Sheed was skilled at making the truths of faith seem clear, reasonable, and ultimately necessary for happiness. “We can never attain a maximum love of God with only a minimum knowledge of God,” he wrote. He died on November 20, 1981.
“Sanity, remember, does not mean living in the same world as everyone else; it means living in the real world.”