From intern to editor: Wiering returns to The Catholic Spirit

| January 8, 2015 | 3 Comments

Maria Wiering, a former intern and reporter with The Catholic Spirit, took the reins Jan. 5 as the editor of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Maria Wiering

Maria Wiering

Wiering, 30, most recently a reporter for the Catholic Review in Baltimore, is a native of Tyler, Minn. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Catholic Studies and a master’s degree in art history, both from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Wiering and her husband have a 15-month-old son.

During an interview conducted as she worked on her first issue as editor, Wiering talked about her commitment to Catholic journalism.

Q. What do you consider the characteristics of a good Catholic newspaper?

A. A good Catholic newspaper is faithful to its broad, diverse Catholic community. It’s aware of and doing its best to cover parish life, the way local and national issues affect local Catholics, and the priorities of the archbishop, who ultimately leads the archdiocese.

Q. You worked at the Catholic Review in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for the last few years. What was the impression your co-workers there had of The Catholic Spirit, if any?

A. The Catholic Spirit has a long reputation for quality Catholic journalism, one that is held throughout the Catholic press and in Baltimore as well. The Catholic Spirit is a respected newspaper, and my colleagues in Baltimore noted its leadership in social media. As important as the newspaper is, reaching people where they are is as important in today’s media-sharing world.

Q. Why do you want to be the editor of The Catholic Spirit?

A. I’ve loved working in Catholic journalism, and I’m so excited to come back to where I got my start in journalism about the Church and to step into leadership. This is where I learned to merge my interest in journalism with my love of the Church and my interest in Catholic studies.

I love the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I wasn’t interested in taking this role anywhere else. After spending time working in Washington and Baltimore, I love the idea of being part of the mission of the Church in this archdiocese. I have great affection for Minnesota and the Twin Cities region.

Q. You’ve won awards with your writing and reporting. Does that come easily for you, or do you sweat blood over the keyboard?

A. Reporting has gotten easier in some sense over the years. At some point I decided not to have writer’s block and to just start writing. I enjoy multifaceted stories. I think the more a reporter is able to dig into a story, the more the reporter becomes interested in telling that story. The best stories write themselves.

Q. These aren’t easy times for Catholics. How can Catholic media — print and electronic — best serve the Catholics in the pews?

A. Maintaining and strengthening our connections to parishes and organizations throughout the archdiocese is key. I want The Catholic Spirit to be a place where Catholics can expect to read about the important issues and events in the Catholic community. The Catholic Spirit needs to be a source of hope because so much that’s going on is challenging our faith and role in the public square.

Catholics are motivated by their faith to do good things in their parishes and community, and we want those stories not to be lost.

We also need to keep our Catholic community informed about the challenges as we face the possibility of more sexual abuse allegations coming to the fore. It’s important to be a source of accurate and updated information, and a place where Catholics feel like the archdiocese is achieving its goal of transparency.

Q. Do you have a preference toward hard news as opposed to human-interest feature stories?

A. Both are really important for our newspaper. As a writer and a reader, I gravitate toward the human-interest features, but the importance of hard news can’t be overlooked. Getting our reporters out in the community is important to me.

Q. What was the best story you ever wrote?

A. It was a six-part series on bioethics where I delved into sticky issues that touch people’s lives in an important way. It was really fascinating to dig into those issues and look at the ethical components. I like that it gave readers something to munch on and grapple with. I’m committed to having discussion-prompting stories in The Catholic Spirit as well.

Q. Is there a book you are reading now or one you’ve read recently that you’d recommend?

A. The history of the archdiocese [“Pilgrims to the Northland: The Archdiocese of St. Paul, 1840-1962”] by Father Marvin O’Connell. It reads as easily as fiction. The archdiocese’s history is something Catholics here can be really proud of. Knowing the history, we can celebrate our great achievements and put modern-day events in historical perspective.

Q. Are there websites or blogs you visit regularly? RSS feeds you’d recommend to Catholics?

A. For Catholic news, the National Catholic Register and National Catholic Reporter. Whispers in the Loggia for more inside baseball stuff about the Church.

There is great blogging going on among young Catholic mothers about the joys and challenges of creating a Catholic home, and I’m drawn to them for personal perspective.

Q. How will The Catholic Spirit be different under the editorship of Maria Wiering?

A. I want to continue the excellence established by previous editors. I’m really interested in finding ways to connect our Catholic community with the community at large, and exploring how the culture of the Church overlaps with the broader culture. I’d like to extend the scope of The Catholic Spirit in a way that would appeal to inactive and non-Catholics, because the Church has a lot to contribute to the culture at large and is an important voice in the public square.

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