The Catholic Spirit is making a difference in the lives of parishioners

| April 25, 2012 | 0 Comments

One of life’s most satisfying moments? When someone tells you that you made a difference.

That feeling of satisfaction came to Catholic Spirit columnist Father Michael Van Sloun several times after his “Five tips for making a better confession” and accompanying down-to-earth “Pre-confession stress relievers” ran in the March 15 issue and online at —right in the middle of Lent.

The pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka, Father Van Sloun let The Catholic Spirit know that those articles “are having an amazing effect,” as he put it.

“A number of other priests have told me that their penitents mentioned the articles, and that they helped motivate them to come to confession and to make better confessions,” he wrote in a note to editor Joe Towalski.

“Several of my own penitents made similar comments,” Father Van Sloun added. “If this effect is being felt in parishes across the archdiocese, one of the most important purposes of a Catholic newspaper — to help Catholics better practice their faith — is being accomplished. You selected a good topic and ran it at just the right time. God bless you for making catechetical instruction an important part of The Spirit.

Touching souls in California

It was gracious of Father Van Sloun to share the job-well-done gratification.

His direct pat on the back came about the same time as an indirect one from a non-Catholic source.

During Lent, we ran a multimedia presentation of “The 21st Century Stations of the Cross,” a piece produced a year ago featuring an updated version of the stations’ text by the late Emilie Lemmons.

Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit photographer and columnist with the deep, resonant voice, did the voice-over of slides of beautifully crafted traditional Stations of the Cross created by Reto Demetz in Italy.

Craig Berry of The Catholic Spirit’s web department pulled it all together in a prayerful slideshow.

Tuesday of Holy Week we received an email from Pastor Kermit Wilson who leads a community church in Long Beach, Calif.

“I was totally blessed by the 21st Century Stations of the Cross video,” Pastor Wilson wrote. He’d seen the presentation on YouTube and he asked if we would share a copy. He wanted to use it for his church’s Good Friday service.

Of course we were happy to make that ecumenical gesture, and encouraged not only that well-done work by The Catholic Spirit staff has a valuable shelf-life but that the prose of our friend and one-time co-worker Emilie lives on.

Good news: Site crashed

It’s been especially satisfying to watch The Catholic Spirit’s efforts in the digital world grow, extending the work we do to people whose lives the print edition might never reach.

One of those stories even touched too many lives recently. offered its readers a link to a story Susan Klemond wrote for The Catholic Spirit in 2011, “Praying with Jesus on Holy Thursday an ancient custom,” and that sent more than 400 visitors to in one hour.

The burst of activity crashed our site, since it’s designed to handle only half that number of visitors at one time.

I’m still trying to decide if that was good news turned bad, or bad news that’s actually good news.

I think I’ll go with the latter.

Bob Zyskowski is The Catholic Spirit’s associate publisher. Reach him at

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Category: Commentary