Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

A milestone worth celebrating

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Anniversaries often mark milestones, and that surely is the case as we celebrate 125 years of Chicago Catholic. Originally called The New World, it was named for the World’s Columbian Exposition held in 1892-1898, dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the new world. 

The Chicago World’s Fair was situated on nearly 700 acres along Lake Michigan, featuring the first Ferris Wheel, a 22,000 pound brick of Canadian cheese and a 30,000 pound temple crafted of chocolate, among other wonders. While the Ferris Wheel was demolished in 1906 and the cheese and chocolate were eaten well before that, this paper continues to this day. Chicago Catholic’s longevity is a testament to its ability to adapt and change — and to the hard work of its dedicated staff. That quality is especially important in our day, given the ever-shifting media landscape.

Even while this media environment poses challenges, it also presents an unprecedented opportunity for evangelization. So, this past January, New World Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago announced a total redesign of the Catholic New World, noting that it will now carry the name Chicago Catholic, as the paper was called in 1980s. A few months later the newspaper launched a handsome new website (chicagocatho

As the director of publications and media, Grant Gallicho, remarked, “we thought it as good a time … to reimagine the way we bring readers news and views from around the archdiocese — and the wider church. We want the newspaper to be a place where Catholics across Chicagoland and the nation can not only learn about what’s happening in the church, but also engage the ideas and beliefs that make our tradition so rich.” 

Pope Francis is a genius-level communicator not because of any master strategy but because he draws from that tradition in ways that are compelling and authentic. He challenges journalists to take authenticity as their guide, by inviting them to approach their work as a mode of encounter that strengthens human solidarity.

In his 2014 message for World Communications Day, for example, he noted that “our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological and, sadly, even religious motives. In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. … A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances.”

Francis’ approach has much to offer us, particularly as we take up the work of Renew My Church. In our work as communicators, we too must aim at promoting solidarity, helping parishioners understand that their parish is a family of families, not a community unto itself. It is also imperative that we focus on creating full participation in the process of renewal by highlighting it as a new opportunity to encounter Christ and the Gospel through faith sharing. Catholic journalism can play a key role in advancing this understanding.

“What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel?” the pope asks. “I find an answer” he replies, “in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbors. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other.” 

Here Pope Francis provides an insight into the enormous contribution of journalism. It is a craft that has the potential to draw us together as one human family, reminding us that we are all neighbors, all children of God. 

Celebrating 125 years of Chicago Catholic must be about more than surviving the ups and downs of the world of print journalism, as worthy as such a celebration may be. This is also a moment to honor the invaluable contribution of journalists, who not only toil to keep us informed of that which we would not know without their work, but who also “help us to feel closer to one another, (and create) a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all.” 

That, indeed, is worth celebrating. 


  • 125th anniversary