A few months back, my husband, Dennis, called me from work and said, “I have to tell you something that is going to make you cry.” He followed it immediately with assurances that nothing was wrong with any of our three children. Still, I was worried. He then told me that Catholic New York would cease operation, and, as he predicted, I cried—for so many reasons. Since 1984, CNY has been my “home” newspaper. I started there as an intern and over the years served as a reporter, managing editor and, for the past 21 years, as a monthly columnist. Add to that the fact that I met my husband at CNY and, well, you can see why it holds such a special place in my heart.
But my tears weren’t just for selfish reasons. I worried, of course, for the people who worked there, and what it would mean for their futures. And I worried about what it would mean for the people of the archdiocese and the ability of the Church to spread its message as only a Catholic newspaper can. As a member of the Catholic media for close to 40 years, I know first-hand how vital it is for the Church to be able to share its news, its teachings, and its many ministries without the slant—sometimes out of ignorance, other times out of malice—of the secular media, which often doesn’t have much interest in our stories unless they make for tantalizing sound bites and eye-catching headlines.
Of course, it doesn’t completely surprise me that print is fading. The younger generation simply doesn’t read print publications, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need our message. In fact, they need it more than ever. It’s up to the Church to make sure it has a relevant and evolving presence in the digital world.
Imagine a world where the only Catholic news you get is the kind reported by your local newspaper or TV station. How unbiased will that be? Where will you get not only stories on key Catholic issues and teachings but in-depth and accurate reporting on what the pope or cardinal is saying? Where will you get reprints of encyclicals and pastoral letters? Where will you get the feature stories about Catholics doing amazing things without anyone noticing—that is until a CNY reporter turns it into an award-winning story?
We need our Catholic press, not just because we want news but because we want to be inspired and educated, evangelized and evangelizing. Without CNY—and the national Catholic News Service, which will also cease operation in the coming weeks—our local Church will struggle to spread the Good News that is so prevalent among our people but so underreported among the secular media. I pray the new digital efforts by the archdiocese will be able to fill the void, but that is no small task. The folks at the helm and filling the pages of CNY have been at this for years, often decades—Catholic media is a vocation and a ministry, not just a job. Their wisdom and insights, experience and enthusiasm will not be easy to replace.
Change is never easy, and yet we know that without change we cannot possibly grow into who and what we are called and created to be. Last month in this space I wrote, “There is beauty even in the fading.” Now, as I struggle to write this final column, I have to admit that the sentiment may be lovely on paper, but it is hard to live, as is so often the case with difficult truths. Even so, we look to the future with hope, because that is who we are.
Mary DeTurris Poust is a writer and retreat leader. Her newest book, “Waiting in Joyful Hope 2022-2023: Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas Reflections” was recently published by Liturgical Press. Information: www.notstrictlyspiritual.com.
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