In June of 1986, Bishop Cletus F. O’Donnell announced that Msgr. Andrew R. Breines was retiring as editor of the Catholic Herald and he named me as the new editor. I am only the second editor in the 63-year history of the Diocese of Madison’s official newspaper, since Monsignor Breines served in that capacity for 38 years. I might not match his longevity!
My first editorial thanked my predecessor for his many years of faithful service. I said Monsignor Breines “was always cautious to avoid the easy labels of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ often used in the secular media. His writing illuminated without polarizing and attempted to show various sides of complex issues while remaining true to those Church teachings which are clear and unambiguous.”
I pledged that our paper would continue “to enlighten and educate as it has done under his leadership.” Hopefully I have done that over the past 25 years in a time of continuing change in the Church, world, and publishing business.
Started work on staff in 1973
Actually my work with the Catholic Herald dates back to 1973, when I joined the staff as a part-time “gal Friday” (yes, that’s what the advertisement for the position called it). I was pursuing my master’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at that time. I had just gotten married and left a job teaching high school English and French.
My background included four years working at the La Crosse Tribune while I was an undergraduate at UW-LaCrosse. I took journalism courses and was interested in a career in newspaper work, but at that time, teaching was a more viable option. While I was teaching, I started a school newspaper and kept my toes in the water of journalism.
Soon after I started at the Catholic Herald, the news editor left. I filled in and eventually Monsignor Breines asked if I wanted the job. The rest is history, as they say.
Paper’s mission is to educate people
Teaching has continued to be part of my work with the Catholic Herald. As our mission statement says, the Catholic Herald’s purpose is to “inform and educate people of the diocese through communications that proclaim Gospel values, report the news, and comment on the issues as they pertain to the mission of the Catholic Church, which is to bring all in Jesus Christ to the Father.”
We are a newspaper and adhere to journalistic standards, but we also emphasize that we are a Catholic newspaper. Our primary purpose is to help people understand their faith and live it more fully in their daily lives.
Changes in publishing industry
Even though I’ve had the same position for many years, my job has not been the same. When I started at the Catholic Herald, we worked on a hot metal system. We typed our stories on a typewriter and sent them to the Catholic Herald printing operation in Milwaukee. Eventually we went to a paste-up method and then we converted to a total computer-based operation. In 1996 we began being printed in Madison. Now all three editions (including Superior and Milwaukee Catholic Herald) are printed here.
I continue to enjoy laying out part of the paper in addition to supervising the staff, correspondents, and photographers; doing some reporting; and writing my editorials.
In 2001, we launched the Catholic Herald Web site at www.madisoncatholicherald.org At first we depended on a Webmaster, but eventually we have gone to a content management system and do most of the work ourselves.
Working with bishops and staff
Over the years, I’ve worked with three wonderful bishops as publishers. After Bishop O’Donnell came Bishop William H. Bullock and then Bishop Robert C. Morlino. All three bishops have emphasized the importance of the Catholic Herald in communicating with people of the diocese.
People have changed in the diocesan offices and on our own staff. Pam Payne has worked on our team since 1974 and has proven to be such an asset through all the changes. Steve Hefty has been our advertising salesperson for over 10 years and Kat Wagner our reporter/photographer for over five years. Marie McEldowney, our administrative assistant, joined the staff last year. Our staff in Milwaukee helps us with production of ads, circulation, and business tasks.
What has remained the same? The dedication of our paper to its mission of educating people of the diocese (and beyond) about the Catholic faith. The basic teachings of our faith need to be explained as they relate to a changing world.
Thank you to everyone who has worked with me over the past 25 years. Thanks especially to our readers whose faith — I hope — has been “stirred, not shaken” by what they read in our newspaper, both print and online.
God bless all of you!