Catholic Press Month: Leading people to God is our goal

| February 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

It’s Sunday morning and the sun’s not up yet, but I powered up the laptop and I’m sitting at my kitchen table now to write this because, well, because I’ve got to.

If you’re a writer, you understand. Sometimes, some things, you’ve just got to write.

When I got up just after 6 a.m., I was looking for the new e-reader my wife got me for Christmas, but I didn’t want to wake Sleeping Beauty to find it in the dark. I grabbed America magazine instead and flipped on the coffee maker.

An hour and 25 minutes later I finally reached the back of the book, and my first thought was: “I gotta tell the America staff how good they are.”

Touching good memories

Maybe it’s because I had the Jesuits at Chicago’s St. Ignatius College Prep in high school, but earlier when I was flipping through that Jan. 2-9 issue I’d stopped at a piece headlined “The Long Black Line: What I Learned from Three Good Men,” and folded the magazine at that page to remember to read it when I had time.

Jesuit novice Patrick Gilger’s first-person essay about his vocation and the now-passed-on Jesuits who touched his life brought memories of those remarkable Jesuits — priests and scholastics — who insisted that my friends and I not only know calculus and English grammar and the theology of the documents of Vatican II, but why it was important for us to spend a day at a home for mentally challenged boys, what Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to do with his protests, and, thank you, Father Paul Borgmann, how to throw a curve ball that dropped straight down.

Over the next four pages, Katarina Schuth gave me the clearest understanding of the clergy sex abuse crisis and how seminaries have been learning how to bring this evil under control. Always the teacher, Sister Katarina has a warning at the end of her piece that I pray to God our church takes seriously.

That information-packed article was balanced from a reader’s perspective by a short emotional tug of the heart by a priest writing of coming “home” to his lonely outpost at a northern Alaska community, then a report on an off-beat art form about a religious figure.


The breadth of America magazine is such that this morning I couldn’t help but read a review of a book about the Inquisition, those pages of eclectic letters to the editor, and the Scripture column by Peter Feldmeier, someone I’d interviewed more than 25 years ago.

A piece on a comic book about St. Stanislaus Kostka wouldn’t normally be anything I’d be interested in, but, hey, it was 6:45 on a Sunday morning and too cold outside to go get the newspaper.

My reward was an instant connection with the comic book artist and a second connection that’s work or career related. The young Polish Jesuit Przemyslaw Wysoglad is known by the nickname Przemo (try pronouncing it SCHEMM-o) — something you take for granted when, with a name like Zyskowski, you get called Zisco and your Margelofsky grandsons are known all over town as the Margo boys.

But it was Przemo’s work ethic he spoke of in the story that resonated as well: “This is for me a kind of prayer. . . . This is the best thing I can do, and I want to praise the Lord with that. And of course I want to make things that will lead people to God.”

That’s us.

That’s what we do at The Catholic Spirit.

That’s what we do in the Catholic press.

Every story, every issue, every blog, every photo, every video — we strive to make it the best thing we can do with the overarching goal that it will lead people to God.

We’re good, appreciated

So, while this bit of writing that I had to get out details how much just one issue of a Catholic magazine had to offer, my hope is that all of us who work in Catholic media take it as just one example of how good we are, what good we do, and come to know that we are appreciated and valued.

That lesson had come across to me just the day before.

Our archdiocese is launching a new marketing effort for Catholic schools, and one of the volunteers leading the initiative is the vice president for marketing and communications at a Fortune 500 company in the Twin Cities.

Covering a workshop for the launch, I went over to introduce myself to her and let her know I might need to ask her some questions later. She floored me instantly.

“Oh, Bob, I recognize your name,” she said. “I’ve read The Catholic Spirit for 20 years. I read it cover to cover. You have such great content. You guys are wonderful.”

How’s that for affirmation from an expert in the communications field?
I can’t wait to tell our staff.

Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher/general manager of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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Category: Commentary, Spotlight