Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead

Today a few of us plugged in to a Webinar sponsored by the Catholic Press Association and two other Catholic communicators’ groups from across the country. The topic? How can bishops work more closely with professional Catholic communicators in our shared mission of evangelization?

This first of four sessions is an initiative of the U.S. bishops’ conference Communications Committee, which is trying to help the bishops adapt to the changing communications environment. Here at St. Anthony Messenger, Franciscan Editor Pat McCloskey, Managing Editor Barbara Beckwith and I spent an hour listening, watching a Powerpoint, adding our 6 bits (2 x 3) via computer and phone. You can see Pat and Barbara, spellbound, in the photo above.

It was an interesting time for a few reasons. First, Webinars are nothing new, but they really haven’t been put much to use in Church communications. A few of us demonstrated the possibilities of this to the Catholic Press over the past 10 years (yikes!), but now, finally, people seem ready to move ahead.

Second, the bishops’ interest in developing stronger bonds with professional Catholic communicators is a good sign. We’re in this together, and want to be supportive of each other. There is much we can learn by working more closely together—especially as communications changes so rapidly. As Blessed Pope John Paul II challenged us regarding digital communication, “Put out into the deep!” (Luke 5:4).

Finally, all of us are going to be using various types of online media more and more in the work of Catholic communications. (Sounds obvious, but the Church always thinks in centuries, right?) Parishes are starting to ask for digital editions, dioceses are going to be serving them more and more online, Catholic media houses like ours are going to be providing lots of digital services.

It was Jesus’ command to his disciples, who kept trying to do their work fishing for the obvious. Try something new, our Lord said: “Put out into the deep!”


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).