Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia recently announced some sweeping operational changes, including the elimination of his archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard & Times. Citing significant financial challenges, Archbishop Chaput stated that the plan will stabilize central office operations, ensure long-term financial stability and put the archdiocese in position for future growth (Philadelphia to lay off 40, close Catholic Standard & Times).
Some of the same reasons that have led Philadelphia to eliminate its newspaper and put its monthly magazine on hold have led the board of directors at our own publication, The Catholic Spirit, to recommend, after two years of careful study and discussion, the changes that are under way this summer.
New world of media
Like secular print newspapers, Catholic newspapers have also been dramatically affected by increasing costs and an online world that has revolutionized the way people receive and share news and information. This is especially true of young people, who rarely pick up any sort of print publication. It is also true even for my own generation for whom the Internet has become an increasingly regular means to stay connected to family, do research for hobbies and interests, find information, and get work done faster and more efficiently than ever.
We’re in a new world, as they say. It is something that the board of directors at The Catholic Spirit was very wise to recognize and prepare for over the past several years. Because our mission as Christian disciples remains the spreading of the Good News and truth of Jesus Christ and his church with joy and charity, we do not want simply to react to this new world, we want to thrive in it.
And so, at the recommendation of the board and after nearly two years of a strategic planning process, analysis and consideration of multiple options, we are implementing the board’s plan to combine the personnel and resources of The Catholic Spirit with our archdiocesan Office of Communications.
This integration joins the considerable communications talent, expertise and experience of both organizations in a way that will enable us more effectively and efficiently to coordinate our communications throughout our local church.
These changes will also allow us to expand all of our print, electronic, online and video communications efforts, including increased utilization of social and emerging media. While we are committed to continuing our biweekly print publication, we also need to expand thoughtfully and assertively our reach in the world of communications online. In the coming year, you will begin to see positive changes in the way we communicate, including a more integrated approach to print and digital media.
As part of the restructuring, most former Catholic Spirit employees were offered and have accepted positions in the new, integrated archdiocesan Office of Communications.
Persons you have come to know through the years at The Catholic Spirit, such as Bob Zyskowski, will be taking on some new and important roles in the communications office. You’ll read more about that in two related stories in this edition (Communications Office restructuring will improve effectiveness, Zyskowski to serve in new role in Communications Office). As we have welcomed our new employees to the archdiocese, they have already found that the employment agreement, salary and benefits offered here are generous and just.
In addition, we provide employment that fully reflects the Catholic Church’s longstanding advocacy for the dignity of work and workers’ rights. In addition to these safeguards, the archdiocese provides an Office of Conciliation to assist employees in protecting their rights. In short, everyone can rest assured that the new employees who have joined the archdiocese from The Catholic Spirit, like all of our current employees, are treated with dignity and justice, in keeping with Catholic teachings and tradition.
Our new communications organization became effective July 1, and with these changes I have asked our new director of communications, Sarah Mealey, to take on the additional role of associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit. In this role, Sarah will assist me and work closely with Joe Towalski, our continuing editor and new publications manager, to ensure that all publications of the archdiocese help us to thrive in this new world of communications.
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. As we move forward, I ask for your prayerful support for our newly integrated team of communications professionals and the good work they do.
God bless you!