By Barb Arland-Fye
A man with a familiar face approached me after Mass at Church of the Visitation in Camanche where I’d just promoted The Catholic Messenger. He said with a smile, “Do you remember me?”
Paging through my memory bank, I responded: “Luckritz!” But his first name escaped me. “Russ,” he responded, still smiling. Memories of 30+ years came flooding back. Russ Luckritz is a retired Clinton fire chief whom I got to know during two stints as a reporter in the Quad-City Times Clinton Bureau in the 1980s.
That encounter was one of the highlights of my marketing effort last weekend at the clustered parishes of Church of the Visitation and Our Lady of the River in LeClaire, my home parish. I enjoyed mini reunions with parishioners I had not seen in a while and visits with parishioners I see regularly at Mass. Some told me how much they liked the diocesan paper or identified their favorite column.
Father Joe Wolf, pastor of both parishes, had given his blessing for me to speak about The Catholic Messenger. Inspiration for the talk came to me after reading a poignant column that my predecessor, Frank Wessling, sent to me. Read his column about love and loss on this page.
“Among my favorite hymns is ‘Song of the Body of Christ’ composed by David Haas,” I began my talk. “You might remember the refrain: ‘We come to share our story. We come to break the bread. We come to know our rising from the dead.’
“That, in a nutshell, describes the mission of The Catholic Messenger: We share the stories, the lived experiences of Catholics in our parishes, our diocese, our nation, our world, and our universal church. We foster an understanding of how that lived experience is one of pilgrimage, of discovery on the journey to union with our triune God.
“These stories of our lives — the joys, the sorrows, the challenges and the accomplishments — are part of who we are as we come together at Mass to break bread as the body of Christ. We tell the story of a tiny parish that for all practical purposes gave away an unused rectory to an Amish family that needed more room.
“We tell the stories of young Catholic adults who are committed to the church because their relationship with God, in a community of faith, responds to their deepest longing. We tell the story of a couple, married long ago in a civil ceremony, who chose to get married in the Catholic Church because they wanted to bear witness to the sacrament of matrimony. We tell the story of our bishop, who loves his ministry to our diocese, but is ready to retire and begin a new leg on his journey of faith.
“Our newspaper carries stories, columns and photos about issues, activities and people that help all of us on our journey of faith as we strive to give witness to what it means to be the body of Christ.
“Pope Francis has said of the media: ‘Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better and ultimately to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another’ (National Catholic Reporter, March 7, 2014).
“I hope you had or will take the opportunity to read the complimentary issue we mailed to every household in our diocese this past week. Bishop Martin Amos, as publisher of The Catholic Messenger, is convinced of its effectiveness in inspiring, educating and informing Catholics in southeast Iowa. ‘It serves as a source of faith formation, helping to enhance appreciation for the Mass and inspire the call to witness to the Catholic faith in our daily lives.’ Thank you for your support!”
(Barb Arland-Fye, Editor, can be reached at email@example.com.)