By Barb Arland-Fye
One of my colleagues in the Catholic Press Association posted a question to our Facebook group Feb. 5 asking, “How are you promoting/celebrating Catholic Press Month?” I did not plan to respond because we just kicked off The Catholic Messenger 2020 subscription drive Jan. 23. However, Sam Lucero’s question lingers in my mind. The Catholic press has profoundly influenced my life.
Eighteen years ago, the Messenger made its first management change in nearly 35 years with the retirement of Msgr. Francis Henricksen and Frank Wessling. The Board of Directors hired me to serve as managing editor.
In an article dated Jan. 24, 2002, the newspaper shared my thoughts about how the previous Sunday’s Gospel fit my situation. “Matthew tells how Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, sees two brothers who are fishermen casting a net into the sea. Jesus says to them, ‘Follow me. … The brothers, Peter and Andrew, leave their nets and follow Jesus.”
A secular journalist for 21 years at the time, I said, “Jesus didn’t ask Peter and Andrew to stop fishing; he asked them to change direction. I believe I am being called to leave a fulfilling position at The Quad-City Times to answer a call to serve The Catholic Messenger and the Diocese of Davenport. I am looking forward to the new challenges and this next chapter in my journey of faith.”
I’ve been fishing ever since, delving deeper into my Catholic faith through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, many companions on the journey and the fascinating and sometimes challenging stories produced by our staff and other members of the Catholic press. My appreciation deepens for the vital role of the Catholic press in providing a broader perspective and insight than the secular press can offer.
We explain the beauty of our seven sacraments, the Mass and the ministries that flow from our participation in the liturgy, our call to go out and live the Gospel. We acknowledge our brokenness, our dependence on God’s mercy to heal us, and our efforts to strive to be Christ to one another. We do not hide the fact that Catholics disagree with one another on how to apply church teaching. That is an area where the Catholic press works baby step by baby step to bridge divides.
A couple of weeks ago for example, The Catholic Messenger Editorial compared the opinions of two letter writers with opposing views on how to end abortion. The editorial offered suggestions and resources toward mending the gap. We advised readers to take a “both/and” approach to pro-life issues rather than the either/or approach. Both letter writers contacted us to say they appreciated the editorial.
Mike Patin, a well-known Catholic speaker and “faith horticulturist” receives the e-edition of The Catholic Messenger as he prepares to give the keynote address at our diocese’s Vision 20/20 celebration on June 14. In a note to Bishop Thomas Zinkula, Mike wrote, “my diocese has gone to the monthly magazine-style which is good, but I love getting more current up to date global Catholic news and reading columns, etc. I spent a leisurely morning with a cup of tea and felt refreshed and inspired this morning from perusing the electronic version of the paper. I just want to thank you for supporting this and for the good people who work there because I am feeling blessed that I can keep up better through the paper…it is kinda like my one-stop-shop for Catholic news.”
This is how The Catholic Messenger celebrates Catholic Press Month, by doing what we do best 50 weeks a year.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)