Persons, places and things: Giving people time to think

By Barb Arland-Fye

Our Catholic Messenger staff has begun a 13-week journey of training through the Catholic Press Association (CPA) to help us transform our workflow and prepare for the future.

The introductory session, a video conference with 36 participants representing seven pu­b­lications, brought back memories for me of Algebra II instruction my junior year in high school. Nearly everyone in that long-ago math class absorbed the concepts, except me. My classmates were ready to move on but I was not and did not want to be left behind!


Our CPA training with Kilian Schalk of PurpleGray consulting is an answer to prayer, but some of those answers come with requirements: patience, perseverance and trust, on my part. Kilian instructed us to complete an assignment using Google Docs, an online word processor that allows us to work with other people on the same document. We received a simple assignment and then moved into another “virtual” room to complete a second assignment.

I floundered from the start, trying to figure out all of the settings on the video conference to access the shared Google Doc. One of our staffers, Anne Marie, attempted to assist and encourage me through the “chat” feature on the video conference. However, she could not see inside my head!

Kilian took pity on me and asked an editor from another publication (who happens to be a mom with very young children) to help me out in a separate, virtual meeting room. Maria spoke calmly, exercised amazing patience and guided me to the correct place to complete the assignment.

The time she spent with me kept her from completing the assignment until later. Kilian called all of us together in the video conference to conclude the session. I expressed my gratitude for Maria’s assistance, another answer to prayer that I would not be left dangling from what seemed to be a cliff!

Later that afternoon, another Catholic Messenger staffer, Jill, provided a couple of tips that allowed me to complete the assignment. Virtual handholding is a blessing!
On Thursdays, our staff participates in a video conference for what we lightheartedly refer to as our mental health checkup since we continue to work mostly from home. During that call, I wanted to share the Diocese of Davenport’s Vision 20/20 prayer with the staff to start our virtual meeting. I lost track of the “share document” icon and kept the staff waiting while I searched.

Tony, our webmaster volunteered to share the document for me. Lindsay, our social media expert, interjected, sharing something Kilian told her that she has taken to heart. I have reflected on her comment since then: “You need to give people time to think about how to solve a problem on their own.”

That statement speaks of the mercy, the patience, the grace that we need to extend to one another during a pandemic that has revealed our vulnerability and our interdependence.

Each day, in my conversation with God, I pray for the flourishing of my staff and the publication we produce with dedication and commitment to the people of the Diocese of Davenport. I believe that God has guided us to this CPA training to continue to explore who we are as a team and how we can lift one another up in our mission to educate, inspire and inform.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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