With this issue, I am joining Catholic Digest as editor-at-large. I will be writing a column in each issue where I will try to share some of my ideas about living the faith in today’s world.
But first I’d like to take just a brief moment to introduce myself (if you’re interested, you can read more in an interview I did with the magazine.
As a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, I serve as an auxiliary bishop, and my titular see is Sufar in northern Africa. As such, I oversee 64 parishes, and I’m the pastor of one of them, Good Shepherd in Wayland, Massachusetts. I also serve Cardinal Seán O’Malley as secretary for Catholic Media and CEO of iCatholic Media, Inc., the parent company of The CatholicTV Network (CatholicTV.org).
Television and the priesthood are two areas that have long held my interest. Two years before I was born in Boston in 1959, Archbishop Fulton Sheen finished a long run of the popular television program Life Is Worth Living. As a tribute to the Ven. Fulton John Sheen, I was honored to wear his pectoral cross beneath my vestments on the day of my own consecration as bishop last year.
In no way do I mean to liken myself to the great Fulton Sheen, but I have long admired his ability to communicate the breadth of our Catholic faith. We’ve had — and continue to have — so many very talented people helping to spread the Good News on the airwaves.
However, I’m thinking about how much we have changed since those early days of television. Fulton Sheen appeared to millions of people on black-and-white television sets, often bulky devices with a huge tube inside. We had to get up off the couch to lower the volume, fix the horizontal lines, or change the station (and there weren’t too many choices).
Today we not only have much more streamlined television sets, with hundreds more choices of what to watch, but we enjoy a wide variety of other ways to get our news, information, entertainment, and inspiration. The internet alone has given rise to so many means of being informed; we can become part of specific communities of interest and interact with others without ever having to leave our seats. One wonders what Archbishop Sheen would have done with such a variety of applications to share the Gospel with others.
At the same time, we have a society that Fulton Sheen might not recognize, with changing attitudes and changing laws in so many areas related to life, love, marriage, and morality. Surveys have found a big increase in the number of people who have no particular religious belief or affiliation.
Indeed, as you are well aware, we who are committed to bringing Christ to a hungry world have our work cut out for us.
It’s for this reason that I am so grateful to now be part of this venture with Catholic Digest. Like television, Catholic Digest has undergone its own evolution, and now we are introducing a redesign of our magazine.
But the mission has pretty much remained the same:
Serving readers who want to grow in their faith and become more confident in sharing that faith with others.
A publication like Catholic Digest serves us very well in keeping us connected with our faith life. The life of the Church is so broad: It stretches across two millennia, and it touches upon a history that has had its ups and downs. In this country, it is incredibly diverse.
In the coming months I hope to contribute to the mission of Catholic Digest by speaking to you directly as a priest and a pastor — not as one who has all the answers, but as someone who, as a priest for 32 years, through my ministry to families and individuals, has gained some insight into the joys and sorrows and struggles that we all experience. I hope to offer some advice on the ways we can all do better at living our faith in the particular situations of life in which we find ourselves.
Although I’m in the public eye through my work on CatholicTV, I think of myself primarily as a pastor, as a parish priest. In my role at CatholicTV, I appreciate it so much when people write in and express how they see me this way — not necessarily as one who has some particular expertise. I certainly hope that you will feel that way, to some extent, with our new relationship here.