Fr. Mike Mendl, Julie Asher and Jakeline Magalhães.

More than 300 Catholic journalists, editors, directors of communications, producers, business managers, advertisers, and publishers—plus three bishops—converged on Green Bay, Wisc., aka “Titletown,” from June 12 to 15. (Did you know that the Packers have won 13 NFL titles? If not, go to Green Bay, and they’ll tell you!)

The Catholic Media Conference is held annually in different cities in the U.S. or Canada. This year the Green Bay Diocese was host, proudly showing off a beautiful little city on the Fox River, home to the only publicly-owned major league sports franchise (the Packers) and home of the site of the only Church-approved Marian apparition in the U.S.

But the purpose of CMC is to share best practices, learn about new developments, network with old and new friends in the media world, recognize outstanding accomplishments, and deepen one’s faith. These 300+ men and women—95% of them lay—are firmly convinced of their mission in the Church as evangelizers. As one speaker said, “We work of J.C.” Another said, “This is a vocation.”

Attendees could follow any of several tracks at the conference: editorial, business, communications, design, digital/social media, parish, or general interest. Many went to whichever session at the given time most interested them, regardless of track.

Jakeline Magalhaes, province delegate for communications, and Fr. Mike Mendl represented the New Rochelle Province. It was a first for Ms. Magalhaes, who enjoyed meeting so many peers with whom she can share Salesian news and professional ideas. “It was a great opportunity to get to know people and understand a little better the workings of Catholic media and the Catholic Church here in United States, besides learning more about relevant themes to our work with the province,” she commented.

She and Fr. Mendl took care to go to different sessions. He attended sessions titled “Handling Hot Topics and Sensitive Subjects,” “The Mystery of the Written Word,” “Sex Trafficking: A Worldwide Epidemic,” “Communicating the Joy of the Gospel,” and “Pitch Perfect: How to Sell Your Story, while she attended “Advanced Social Media,” “Three keys to social media success,” “The New Areopagus: Sharing stories of faith in a digital world,” and “Engaging the Hispanic population.”

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Natasa Govekar, director of the Department of Pastoral Theology at the Vatican Secretariat for Communication. She presented the ongoing communications plans of the Holy See, the key themes of which are discipleship and evangelization.

Dr. Govekar also took part in the panel “Communicating the Joy of the Gospel” with Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay and two others.

The bishops in attendance besides Bishop Ricken were Bishop Robert Morneau, Green Bay’s retired auxiliary, and Bishop Gerald Kicanas, emeritus of Tucson, Ariz. Each bishop presided at one of the CMC Masses. Attending priests concelebrated and deacons assisted.

The first Mass, Wednesday evening, was celebrated by Bishop Morneau at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Hope, where the Virgin Mary appeared in 1859 to a Belgian immigrant farmgirl, Adele Brise, and charged her to go around all the neighboring farms to teach catechism to “the children in this wild country,” which Adele did until her death in 1896.

Bishop Kicanas presided at the second Mass, Thursday morning in the convention center, which, even at 8:30 a.m., drew more participants than the organizers expected, and some had to sit in the hall outside the prayer room where Mass was celebrated.

The Friday evening Mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral was the CPA’s annual memorial Mass for members who died in the preceding 12 months. Bishop Ricken presided.

Bishop Morneau, an accomplished spiritual writer and poet, also led the session “The Mystery of the Written Word.”

One of the Catholic Press Association’s highest awards, the Bishop John England Award, was given to Bishop Kicanas. The award recognizes Catholic publishers for the defense of First Amendment rights, such as freedom of the press and freedom of religion. It is the CPA’s highest award for publishers. The bishop commended the Catholic media for their work not only in defending precious freedoms but also in speaking for the voiceless, such as immigrants and refugees.

The CPA’s highest award, the St. Francis de Sales Award, went to Julie Asher, veteran national editor of Catholic News Service in Washington. The award recognizes journalistic excellence over a sustained period of time, which in Ms. Asher’s case includes not only writing, editing, and overseeing a pile of CNS’s national activity but also making presentations at journalism conferences and masterfully overseeing interns working at CNS.

At the end of the CMC, hundreds of awards are given out for the previous year’s (2017) outstanding work in dozens of areas such as stories, photography, design, books, best publications, etc. We are happy to say that E-Service, the predecessor of this newsletter, copped four awards: two second places—a photo montage by three Champaign, Ill., photographers and an article by Fr. Mendl; and two third places—an article by Bro. Rob Malusa and Fr. Tim Zak’s regular column “Message from the Provincial.”

June 20, 2018 - 12:26pm
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