By Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Martin Amos came up with the idea for this year’s photo shoot to promote The Catholic Messenger subscription drive months ago. Each year since his first subscription drive in 2007 we strive for creativity in delivering an eye-catching message about the value of The Catholic Messenger.
One year, the photo showed Bishop Amos reading the Messenger during a physical therapy session after knee surgery. Last year, we photographed him reading the newspaper while getting his hair cut at the barber shop. In spring 2013, while planning for his trip to France in July, Bishop Amos suggested that the overseas location might provide the backdrop for the 2014 Messenger promotion.
A priest from Ireland happened to be in the court yard during the photo shoot in France and offered to snap a photo of Bishop Amos and me reading the Messenger. It seemed appropriate for the bishop, as publisher, and me, as editor, to be on the same page when it comes to endorsing what the diocesan newspaper offers.
In The Catholic Messenger you will:
• Learn about the bishop’s decisions concerning clergy assignments, liturgical practices and other issues impacting the diocesan Church, and gain insight from his homilies.
• View photographs of his interactions with the people of our diocese and peruse his calendar for the coming month.
• Read inspiring stories about individuals, youths and adults, making a difference in the lives of others.
• Gain perspective about Pope Francis’ ministry, not just the superficial stuff the secular press picks up.
• Discover the impact of the Iowa legislature’s decisions on issues important to Catholic Iowans, through analysis by the Iowa Catholic Conference.
• Reflect on columns by diocesan and national clergy, women religious and other lay people whose ministry is shaped by their lived experiences.
• Pick up ideas from among the 80 parishes around the diocese for ministry, programs and events.
• Find out what’s happening in our Catholic schools, religious education and youth ministry.
• Be inspired/challenged by editorial columnists.
• Discover how universal Church issues, such as the Vatican survey on the family, impact our diocesan Church.
“The Catholic Messenger is an important evangelization tool that helps me as your bishop to reach Catholics throughout our diocese with an award-winning news and information resource,” Bishop Amos said in a letter published on last week’s front page. “Our diocesan newspaper serves as a source of faith formation, helping to enhance appreciation for the Mass and to inspire the call to witness to the Catholic faith in our daily lives.”
He noted that the Messenger builds community and, in responding to readers’ preferences, offers a print edition, e-edition, website, Facebook page and “tweets” messages on Twitter.
Subscription fees are the primary source of the newspaper’s income and The Catholic Messenger has been able to keep costs down with prudent management of expenses. As a result, our Board of Directors decided to freeze the subscription price this year at $29 annually, whether you choose the print edition, e-edition or both print and e-edition.
Robert Robeson of McAllen, Texas, sent his subscription renewal on Nov. 26, with a note attached that read: “Dear Sir: This is your oldest continuously running subscription (as I recall, from 1941.”)
Father Augustine Kasagi of Toyonaka Catholic Church in Osaka, Japan, sent a substantial contribution for his subscription and thanked us for regularly sending him issues of The Catholic Messenger. He wanted to be sure we had enough funds to pay for the paper and for postage.
Readers inside the diocese appreciate us as well. In an informal survey we conducted last year they told us what specific columns, articles and pages they read first. The Opinions page is among the most popular. With our reputation for integrity, readers trust and relate strongly to us.
“Print remains a communications backbone in terms of reaching Catholics who are registered in parishes, attend Mass regularly or financially support their parishes,” Greg Erlandson, president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, said in speech last fall.
That’s why Bishop Amos is thinking ahead when it comes to promoting The Catholic Messenger.