The Catholic Spirit to combine with archdiocesan Communications Office

| June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

Sarah Mealey

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is combining the resources and personnel of The Catholic Spirit and the archdiocesan Office of Communications.

The restructuring, announced June 14 and expected to take place by July 1, will help create a more integrated communications function committed to strengthening the archdiocese’s communications with more than 825,000 members of the Catholic Church in its 12-county area, the archdiocese said in a statement.

The changes also will more fully coordinate and expand the archdiocese’s print, electronic, online and video communications efforts, including increased use of social and emerging media, the statement said.

“The Catholic Spirit is a wonderful asset to our local church and our Catholic community. We want to build on this firm foundation and keep getting better and better as we reach out to members of the Catholic Church throughout the archdiocese,” said Sarah Mealey, archdiocesan director of communications. “There’s so much opportunity ahead of us.”

The Catholic Spirit produces bi-weekly print and e-newsletter membership publications, maintains a website at TheCatholicSpirit.com, a blog site at CatholicHotdish.com, and a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The archdiocese said it is committed to continuing these publications and communications networks.

“This is a time of transition in how people receive information and keep connected, and like other organizations, it’s important for the archdiocese to use its limited resources in the most effective and efficient ways,” said Bob Zyskowski, The Catholic Spirit’s associate publisher/general manager.

“Our own research agrees with the national studies that show that many current readers of Catholic publications like and even prefer to hold a print product in their hands as opposed to reading on a computer, so it’s a wise move for the archdiocese to continue to publish bi-weekly,” he added. “But we’ve not only got to continue to inform and inspire those engaged members of our parishes, we’ve got to reach out in new ways and share the stories of God alive in our world today, and do it in a smart, strategic way.”

Expanding reach

As a membership publication designed to support the archbishop in his teaching mission, The Catholic Spirit has been seeking more cost-effective ways to fulfill this mission. The changes are the culmination of nearly two years of strategic planning by The Catholic Spirit and its board of directors to address decreasing readership, increasing costs of print publications and increasing use of alternative media.

“Our vision is to dramatically expand our reach,” Mealey said. “While we remain committed to traditional forms of media such as our bi-weekly print publication, increasing our use of social and new media will help us achieve that vision, especially with younger generations who get their news and information almost exclusively from the Internet and social networks.”

Catholics in the archdiocese also will notice more use of media such as video, Mealey said.

“People take in information in different ways today than they did even five years ago,” she said. “The use of video, for example, has really exploded, and we just really haven’t used that medium. . . . We’re going to see a much greater use of video to help pastors and parishes.”

Personnel integration

As part of the restructuring, the archdiocese said the majority of former Catholic Spirit employees will be offered positions in the new, integrated Office of Communications.
The archdiocese operates with an employment agreement called “Justice in Employment.” In place since 1999, the agreement “reflects the Catholic Church’s longstanding advocacy for the dignity of work and workers’ rights,” and it provides extensive protections for employees, the archdiocesan statement said.

In addition, the archdiocese provides an Office of Conciliation to assist employees in protecting their rights afforded under “Justice in Employment.” The archdiocese also provides a comprehensive benefits package, including more generous coverage of health care costs than are currently available to Catholic Spirit employees.

Because the restructuring creates some overlap in functions, the archdiocese said a few employees of The Catholic Spirit will receive a severance package that is consistent with both their current employment agreement and the Catholic Church’s commitment to justice and fairness.

The archdiocese added that there will be no disruption to its publications, including the print edition of The Catholic Spirit, which reaches 82,000 households.

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