By Barb Arland-Fye
My husband Steve and our 15-year-old son Patrick patiently critiqued my rehearsals of a presentation promoting subscriptions to The Catholic Messenger.
Then I headed to St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City, where I was to make my first presentation before the 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, Jan. 16. Presentations before the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Masses would follow on Sunday.
God has given me gifts to communicate in writing; public speaking, however, takes me a bit out of my comfort zone. But I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit when I began talking before the 4 p.m. Mass and that provided a great sense of peace.
The parishioners I met afterwards were gracious and willing to talk about the newspaper and what they like and don’t like about it. As a bonus, I picked up some story ideas for future publication in The Catholic Messenger.
Father Mike Phillips, the pastor of St. Wenceslaus for nearly 10 years, expressed appreciation for the talk. Then he and some of the lay leaders took me out for dinner. During that enjoyable evening I learned more about the parish’s history — especially from parish historian Jenny Anciaux — and shared stories of Catholic life in my parish and theirs.
The next morning, I delivered my presentation for a second time, before the 8 o’clock Mass. I hadn’t anticipated the number of people who would be so eager after Mass to share their thoughts about The Catholic Messenger.
Some of those who approached me during coffee and doughnuts in the parish hall said they couldn’t support The Catholic Messenger as long as we continue to publish Father Richard McBrien’s column. They believe his theology is not in line with the Vatican and church teaching. I respectfully disagreed and pointed out that a number of our readers greatly appreciate his columns. I also noted that The Catholic Messenger is offering theologian George Weigel’s column on a regular basis to counterbalance Fr. McBrien’s.
While parishioners were passionate in expressing their views, I was appreciative of their willingness to listen to my viewpoint and hopefully they felt that I had listened to their viewpoints.
Each of us cares deeply about the Catholic Church and strives to impart the faith so that it will continue and flourish for generations to come. No other publication comes close to sharing the faith that shapes the people of the Davenport Diocese than our diocesan newspaper.
Following the 10 a.m. Mass, a parishioner suggested we could save costs by shrinking the paper, reducing the number of pages or publishing less frequently. I explained that we have an abundance of diocesan news that needs to be shared in a timely manner and on a weekly basis. That keeps the publication relevant to our readers.
Bishop Martin Amos believes The Catholic Messenger is a vital part of the ministry of the Diocese of Davenport, and he says so in a letter to be released at the end of this month as a kickoff to the 2010 subscription drive. He encourages parishioners throughout the diocese to support The Catholic Messenger by purchasing a $26 annual subscription.
I am grateful for the hospitality I received from St. Wenceslaus Parish and for the opportunity to promote a publication that I give my heart and soul to.