Shepherd's Voice

Catholic Voice, The True Voice have helped bishops teach the faith

By Archbishop George J. Lucas

The time has come to say goodbye to the print version of the Catholic Voice. This trusted element of our archdiocesan communications effort will still exist in electronic form.

I hope more and more Catholics and others will still go to it for important news and information about the Church. The last print edition of the paper marks the end of a rich chapter in the proclamation of the Gospel, even as a new chapter is beginning. I thought I would make use of this moment to look back with you in gratitude and to look forward in hope. 

I confess to being a lover of newsprint. I have looked forward to reading the paper every day, ever since I was a boy growing up in St. Louis. The city had two daily papers. We had one delivered to our house in the morning and my dad picked up the evening paper on his way home from work. I looked forward to reading them both. As I got older, I understood that the newspaper helped me find my place in the city, in the nation and in the world.

We also had a weekly Catholic newspaper, which became more interesting to me as I moved through the years of formation for the priesthood. Later, as a priest, I was invited to become a regular contributor to the Catholic paper and to serve on its editorial board. I enjoyed seeing my writing in print, and I appreciated the editor who helped me improve. During my years as a bishop of Springfield in Illinois, I wrote a regular column for the diocesan paper, as I have done here for the past 12 years.

The Catholic Voice, and its predecessor, The True Voice, have helped the bishops and archbishops here fulfill our responsibility to teach the faith. Our local church covers 23 counties, and the paper has helped to knit us together and to get to know each other in the Lord over many generations. Even though I am not able to visit each parish as often as I would like, my contributions to the paper enabled me to offer something regularly to all of you, which I hope has encouraged you as disciples of Jesus.

The front cover of the Oct. 21, 2016, Catholic Voice boldly proclaims the archbishop’s new pastoral vision for the archdiocese.

All of this is to say that I have enjoyed newspapers, secular and Catholic, ever since I learned to read. I have been proud of the Catholic Voice and glad to have contributed to it. If I could create the world I would want to live in, there would be more printed papers, not fewer.

But that world doesn’t exist. I am 72 years old, and when I put down a printed paper for the last time, no one is coming along to pick it up. There are fewer of us all the time who look to printed media for information and news about the Church or the world. Yet it is essential that we proclaim the good news of life in Christ within the Church and to the world. Good stewardship requires that we find the best ways to do that today.

The Catholic Voice online will continue to provide good content and important insights into Catholic life in our archdiocese. Many of you are already connected to our digital media accounts, which provide timely photos, news and inspiration that you can readily share with others. The archdiocese provides each parish with access to Flocknote, a service that enables easy communication with parishioners.

It will take us all a little time and effort to stay in touch in some new ways. Without the growing costs of printing and postage, and without having to hold interesting materials until a print deadline, I am confident that we will still be able to provide a fresh look at our life in the Church that we will continue to be proud of.

As you know, in recent years we have articulated a pastoral vision for our archdiocese that we are confident expresses the Lord’s own desire for us. We remain focused on the unity which is ours in Christ, despite the challenges of distance, age and culture. We want to foster deeper and more personal encounters with Jesus, right here where we live, and to be formed as his disciples in the world. We need to become more alert to the needs of our neighbors and to the opportunities to bring the mercy of Jesus to them.

To move more intentionally toward the realization of this vision, we have embraced an ambitious goal to transform our parishes into communities structured to fulfill the mission given to us by Jesus, to bring the light and joy of the Gospel to as many as we can.

Becoming the Church that Jesus desires us to be will always depend on effective communication. The Gospel must be proclaimed using all the means at our disposal. These efforts also must be received and understood, not only by other Catholics, but also by the many in our families and communities that have no practical connection to the Church.

I will always be grateful for how well the Catholic Voice has assisted in this proclamation of the Gospel for generations. In particular, I express my appreciation to those who have done a great job of producing the printed paper in recent years: Dan Rossini, our editor, ably assisted by Mike May, Susan Szalewski, John Donahue and Linda Stehno.

As we move forward, I encourage you to look for and to share the various communications available to you from your parish and from the archdiocese, so that we can continue to grow in our faith. I look forward to being in touch, even when we aren’t able to see each other face to face. Please join me in asking the help of the Holy Spirit as we each accept the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the Kingdom of God here in northeast Nebraska.