As Catholic communicators, we need to support our priests

05/2015

When I started my career in Catholic communications, one great piece of advice I received was from Dr. Owen Phelps, the legendary communicator from the Diocese of Rockford. I am very grateful to Owen. When I was preparing to launch FAITH magazine, my bishop suggested reaching out to him. Owen had participated in a consultation for our diocese and was kind enough to help a newbie like me. He suggested tapping into the Catholic Press Association. In 1999, I attended my first CPA conference. It was in Chicago and it was great.   

I have never forgotten another piece of advice Owen gave me: always respect and serve your priests. Put their needs first. Owen said: No matter how busy you are, make time for your priests. If you are in a meeting and a priest calls, take the call. Church workers who resent or dismiss the clergy forget an important reality about what we believe as Catholics. It is through the priest that we receive Christ in the Eucharist, that we receive God’s forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation. Priests bring Christ to us. 

Our job as content evangelists is to help people with their encounter with Christ; to help them draw closer to the Lord. For Catholics, that encounter so often happens through a priest, at a parish. Our content can help people see the benefits of parish membership and inspire them to become more engaged in the life of the Church. We can show them how to pray more, to grow as disciples. For content evangelists, this is one key measure of our success. When we deliver on this, we succeed in serving our priests and our parishes. For me, there is no greater compliment than hearing a priest say our work has helped him in his parish.  

In this summer of ordinations and priesthood anniversaries, let’s remember to honor our priests. Thank them. When you plan content, think of what would help them first. After all, they represent the one who places each of us first — Jesus Christ.