February 23, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

February kudos for the Catholic press

Shirley Vogler MeisterDuring the years I have written for The Criterion, I have never mentioned that I am a longtime member of the Catholic Press Association. Nor can I recall ever sharing this: February is Catholic Press Month.

Most readers also don’t know that I have freelanced for other Catholic publications or that my prose and poetry have been published widely by the secular press.

I don’t mention this as a point of pride, but in the spirit of sharing. As I told my dentist one time after he said he had seen my work in several publications one month: “I’m just doing my little job.”

He laughed, but I was serious. I am only a tiny cog in the huge wheel that represents a writing life and journalism.

Why mention this? Perhaps I feel a need for a little background to prove my credibility as a writer, especially with the Catholic press.

Now, I especially applaud our archdiocesan weekly, The Criterion, which began promoting the Good News of Jesus Christ in 1910 under the name The Indiana Catholic and Record.

Before that, The Catholic Record was the area’s paper until 1899, and The Indiana Catholic was founded in 1925. During interim years, The Columbian from Columbus, Ohio, provided the Good News with an Indianapolis edition. (This information comes from a thesis written by Martha Ann Jacob for a Master of Arts degree in the Department of Journalism at Indiana University in June 1963.)

Recently, a friend shared a poem I feel is appropriate now: “Decide to Be the Good News” by Dr. Robert Muller, former assistant secretary general to the United Nations. His biography, poetry and much more can be found on the Web at www.robertmuller.org.

To save space, his poem is printed here as prose with line breaks:

Let the good news be / incarnated in you / Proclaim your belief / in humanity / in our success / in our further transcendence / in our peace, justice and happiness / in the construction of the Planet of God / Think of it / Feel for it / Speak of it / Work for it / For all we think, all we feel / all we say and all we do / Must not hinder but help / The great design of God, Our Cosmic destiny / Our further ascent and evolution / Towards the permanent reign / of God on our miraculous planet.

Recently, retired editor Stephen Kent, Western regional representative for the Catholic Press Association and former executive editor of Catholic papers in Omaha and Seattle, shared his thoughts about the Catholic good news in a CPA Board Corner e-mail. I believe it sums up the group’s mission quite well.

“The primary purpose of Catholic Press Month is … to focus on the importance of Catholic publishing to the life of faith. … Catholic Press Month is a time to tell our public our value. … Since Church is community, communication is essential … like breathing or blood flow—essential to vitality … to build up the Body of Christ.”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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