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Sense of mission, superb staff among Voice’s strengths

As I entered the office of the Catholic Voice in Omaha for the first time last month, an impressive display caught my eye.

Prominently exhibited on a brick sidewall and decorative woodscreen in the entryway were the newspaper’s latest professional awards, all testifying to the excellence of the work that had taken place – and no doubt was still taking place – inside.

Some honors, predictably, witnessed to the Voice’s editorial prowess: first place for a feature series, second place for youth coverage, third place for in-depth writing.

Others acknowledged the high quality of its design and production: first place for a front page, second place for best media kit. Still others recognized aspects of newspapering all too easy to overlook: first place for building circulation, third place for creative ad writing, third place for reader interaction contest.

As important as these honors were, however, the display gave its most prominent spots not to awards, but to the front pages of past issues describing the newspaper’s mission.

For example, the Nov. 11, 1966, edition of The True Voice (as it was called back then) celebrated the newspaper’s new office on Northwest Radial Highway. To mark the occasion, then-editor Father William Kelligar interviewed Archbishop Gerald T. Bergan about the role of his newspaper.

"Fundamentally, the office of the bishop is to teach," he said. "Really, that was the only command our Lord gave to his apostles in days gone by: that they should go into the wide world and teach the truths he had brought."

Archbishop Bergan said that this teaching was not to be done by preaching alone, but through the printed word, which is valuable both for its permanency and wide range.

"In the Archdiocese of Omaha, far more people have the opportunity to read The True Voice – which is really and truly the voice of the archbishop – than those who have the opportunity at confirmations or other functions to hear the spoken word of their archbishop."

The diocesan newspaper, then, is an extension of the bishop’s vocation to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to every soul in his diocese. In addition to informing people about events in the wider Catholic community and promoting the work of diocesan offices, the paper conveys the truths of the Catholic faith in a meaningful and relevant way.

"Of many times greater value than the spoken word is the written word, which enters our homes week after week – we hope every home in the archdiocese," Archbishop Bergan concluded.

Another key feature of the Catholic Voice to which the archbishop alluded here is its brand strength. Throughout its 114-year history, thousands of Catholics in the archdiocese have received this sound source of information and instruction into their homes, reading it faithfully. For them it became a familiar face, a valuable resource, indeed, a trusted friend.

As the new editor and general manager of the Voice, I reflect on these three things – the Voice’s mission, its commitment to excellence, and its brand equity. And I am first of all grateful: grateful to Archbishop George J. Lucas and chancellor Deacon Tim McNeil for hiring me, grateful to participate professionally in the evangelizing work of the church – a cause that is very close to my heart; grateful to be part of such a prestigious institution; and grateful for a superb staff.

Seeing firsthand the strengths of the Voice is truly humbling. In my past work, I have managed two other diocesan publications: The Catholic Times in La Crosse, Wis., and The Prairie Catholic in New Ulm, Minn. Both were strong in certain areas – and I did my best to make improvements where they weren’t – but never have I been made responsible for a publication that already had such an impressive array of advantages as the Voice.

Which brings us, finally, to hope. the Voice now has the opportunity to build on the solid foundation of its past leaders – most recently editor and general manager Deacon Randy Grosse. Where will we go? What will we do? At this moment, it’s too early to tell. New directions will no doubt be explored in the coming months.

One thing, however, is certain: We will continue to rely on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to spread his Good News. May he grant us his help and guidance in this important endeavor!

 

Dan Rossini is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at djrossini@archomaha.org.

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