February is Catholic Press Month and it is a good time for me to salute our diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Sun, as well as, to thank its editorial staff and contributors for seeking to make it a vehicle for communicating and sharing the Catholic faith in central New York.  Like all print media these days, it struggles to find that right balance between the printed word and modern social communication. Therefore, I am exceedingly proud how The Catholic Sun seeks to help the gospel of Jesus Christ come alive whether on paper or on a screen!  For me, it continues to be a primary means of catechesis for our diocesan family and one of my personal goals is to see that strengthened in its pages even through the column I write each week.

In the calendar of Saints on January 24th, the Catholic Church celebrated the memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva and patron of journalists and writers.  St. Francis, in a great time of upheaval in the Church, used pamphlets and books to assist the laity in their spiritual lives, along with seeking to assist with conversion to the faith.  In many respects, it all might sound just a bit familiar!  After all, there is the quote, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Yet, the life and gentle ministry of St. Francis de Sales is a reminder to you and me of what we can do to change things today.  The saint was fond of saying: “Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily.”

For me, this is what the Catholic press is all about – showing how God reveals himself to us in the nitty gritty of daily life.  We can find such revelation in the course of the events locally, nationally, and globally that are reported on in The Catholic Sun. We find it in columns focusing on the Word of God and the Church’s Tradition, in my own weekly column dedicated to Church life and teaching, and in a variety of articles touching upon how the Gospel of Jesus Christ comes alive in our local Church.

Pope Francis, who in his Petrine ministry uses the press as a primary medium of communication, exhorts journalists, including Catholic journalists, to search for the truth and respect individuals in their reporting of news stories.  Moreover, in his message for the 54th World Communication Day in 2020, the Holy Father stated:

The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely. It shows us that God was so deeply concerned for mankind, for our flesh and our history, to the point that he became man, flesh and history. It also tells us that no human stories are insignificant or paltry. Since God became story, every human story is, in a certain sense, a divine story. In the history of every person, the Father sees again the story of his Son who came down to earth. Every human story has an irrepressible dignity. Consequently, humanity deserves stories that are worthy of it, worthy of that dizzying and fascinating height to which Jesus elevated it. “You” – Saint Paul wrote – “are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3). 

With these words in mind, I would like you to invite you to continue your support of Catholic publications, including The Catholic Sun. I remember when I was growing up in the Diocese of Ogdensburg that in my parents’ home, besides religious symbols and the Bible, we could find on the coffee table in the living room, the diocesan newspaper – The North Country Catholic – as well as The Catholic Digest, and The Snows magazine from the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL amidst The Reader’s Digest, Field & Stream, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Good Housekeeping, The Conservationist and others.  Why I mention this is that, in a given month, it would not be unusual for family members to read various articles from all these publications and discuss what was being read.  These periodicals became a means for family sharing including our faith.  I remember being encouraged as a twenty-something lay person not to forget to have Catholic reading material coming into one’s home.  Now as fifty-something bishop, I would like to encourage us to do the same today, whether in print or digitally.

I have made a commitment, along with the staff of The Catholic Sun to make our diocesan newspaper worth your subscription fee.  It is our desire that it not only inform your faith, but also help you to know the diocesan church of which you are a member.  To this end, I continue to work with the editorial staff of the newspaper in making The Catholic Sun a means of conveying Catholic teaching relevant to the world in which we live.  Thank you for your support and prayers for the Catholic press, especially here in the Diocese of Syracuse.

In the 2022 message for World Communication Day, Pope Francis has invited you and me “to listen with the ear of the heart.”  In our diocesan listening sessions that idea has been a key component of Sr. Katie Eiffe’s instruction to participants.  Let us make these words our simple prayer in our communication of God’s faith in us and in our faith in God.  May our attentive reading of both print and one another lead us closer in love of God and love of neighbor!

Again, thank you for all you do to help evangelize; that is, spread the Good News of Jesus Christ!  Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

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