A restructured archdiocesan Office of Communications will help the local church to better coordinate its messages and spread the Good News more effectively and efficiently in light of rapid changes happening in the world of print and digital media, Archbishop John Nienstedt said.
“I am optimistic and excited about these new possibilities and the promise they hold for us to live out, in a more dynamic way, our mission of Christian discipleship in this local Church,” he wrote in his column in this week’s edition of The Catholic Spirit (see page 2).
The restructuring, which was effective July 1, includes combining the resources and personnel of the Communications Office and The Catholic Spirit, which will continue to publish on a biweekly schedule.
The changes will strengthen and expand the archdiocese’s print, electronic, online and video communications efforts, including use of social and emerging media, the archdiocese said in a statement last month announcing the new organization.
Archbishop Nienstedt has asked the director of communications, Sarah Mealey, to assume the additional role of associate publisher of the newspaper as part of the integrated office.
Bob Zyskowski, who had served as associate publisher since 1998, is taking on new responsibilities as the office’s client products manager, overseeing publication-related services the archdiocese provides to the dioceses of Fargo, St. Cloud and Duluth (see related story on this page).
Joe Towalski, editor of the newspaper since 2005, is continuing in that position and also serving as publications manager with responsibilities to oversee all membership publications produced by the office, including newsletters, brochures and the official Minnesota Catholic Directory.
Towalski is assisted by a publications team within the Office of Communications that includes former employees of The Catholic Spirit who will produce stories, photos, videos and other content for member publications as well as provide design, advertising and development support.
Other members of the Office of Communications, headed by Mealey, include:
- Craig Berry, who serves as social and new media manager. Berry will head a team of three people dedicated to developing and managing the archdiocese’s use of new media — including the Internet, websites, audio and video — as well as social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. He and team members also will implement multimedia, webinar and online training and communications programs.
Berry joined the Office of Communications in May, after serving as webmaster of The Catholic Spirit since 2007. At the newspaper, he oversaw the design and development of TheCatholicSpirit.com — which was honored with a first place award for best website in 2010 by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. In his new role, Berry will continue to oversee TheCatholicSpirit.com and its affiliated blog site, Catholic Hotdish.com. The newspaper also will maintain its presence on a variety of social media.
- Rita Beatty, who is the communications manager. She will oversee and manage specific projects to support the communications and marketing objectives of the archdiocese. Beatty previously served the archdiocese in support roles connected to the archdiocesan strategic plan, parish services and schools.
- Jim Accurso, who joined the staff in January as media and external relations manager. Among his duties, he serves as a spokesperson for the archdiocese with outside media and other audiences.
- Mary Gibbs, who serves as project and administrative coordinator. Gibbs previously worked as the administrative manager at The Catholic Spirit. In her new position, she will provide administrative support to the office’s director and continue to coordinate the Leading With Faith awards program honoring area business leaders, among other communications projects of the archdiocese.
The changes related to The Catholic Spirit are the culmination of nearly two years of strategic planning by the newspaper and its board of directors to seek more cost-effective ways to fulfill its mission in light of decreasing readership, increasing costs of print publications and the increasing use of alternative media.
“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,” Zyskowski said last month when the restructuring was announced.
Added Mealey: “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. There’s so much opportunity ahead of us.”