REMARKS OF CARDINAL JOHN P. FOLEY
ORDER OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE OF JERUSALEM,
100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT,
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA,
JANUARY 6, 2011
Your Grace, Archbishop Nienstedt, my brothers and sisters in Christ:
First of all, I want to thank Bob Zyskowski, the associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit, for his invitation to celebrate with all of you the 100th anniversary of The Catholic Spirit. I also want to thank my friend of twenty-six years, Archbishop John Nienstedt, for his kind hospitality. I remember when he assured that my mother got an invitation for Thanksgiving in Rome in 1984, and I remain ever grateful to him.
I also remember when Bob Zyskowski worked with me at The Catholic Standard and Times in Philadelphia thirty-five years ago. One of his final responsibilities was to assemble the pre-and post- Eucharistic Congress issues of the newspaper in 1976. It was an enormous task, and he did it very well, as always!
I fact, Cardinal Krol, then the Archbishop of Philadelphia and our publisher, asked me if I would have a special supplement for the Second Coming of the Lord, and I responded “yes”. When he asked what advertising I would get for the issue, I responded, “Going out of business sales!”
In 1975, as Bob will well remember, Cardinal Krol made a Holy Year pilgrimage, not only to Rome but also to the Holy Land, Egypt and Lebanon.
In Egypt, he visited the pyramids – and said to me – “Father Foley, they want me to get on that camel. Should I get on that camel?” I answered that I did not think he should get on the camel – so he got on the camel. He was wearing a white cassock, and had a slight beard – and they put a kaffiyeh, or Arab headdress, on him. He looked somewhat like Yassir Arafat. Naturally, as a newsman, I took a photo of him on the camel.
After we got home, he began to get letters from Jewish groups lamenting that it looked as if he had embraced the Arab cause.
He asked me why, if I had counseled him not to get on the camel, I took a picture of him on the camel, and I replied that, as a priest, if asked, I would say what I thought he ought to do, but as a journalist I would cover whatever he did. He smiled and made no more comment.
I hope that the environment to which Bob Zyskowski owes at least part of his formation was one of respectful candor – taking God and His Church seriously, but not ourselves – and insisting always on knowing and telling the truth.
It certainly comes as no surprise to me that Bob has produced an outstanding paper. As far as I’m concerned, he is a blessing to the Catholic Press. As many of you know, Bob was also president of the Catholic Press Association at the time I was named a cardinal – and so he decided to give me – in the name of the association – the clothes I’m wearing. He thought it would be appropriate if a representative of Catholic journalism could be seen running in the red.
The Catholic Spirit, of course, has a wonderful tradition. Established by the legendary Archbishop Ireland 100 years ago as The Catholic Bulletin, the diocesan newspaper of St. Paul – Minneapolis flourished until the mid-1990s when its circulation fell to about 26,000. Reborn as The Catholic Spirit in 1996, 15 years ago this week, your weekly newspaper has gotten into the habit of winning the general excellence award of the Catholic Press Association. You can be very proud of your newspaper.
Apparently, the only instruction given to the first editor of the paper was to publish and interesting, well-written and well-edited Catholic newspaper, non-political and non-controversial, which did not necessarily reflect the Archbishop’s views on any subject.
My own view was that a diocesan newspaper must be a source of information, formation and inspiration to supplement and indeed sometimes correct what is found in the secular media.
I have been fortunate to have known personally a number of your editors. The first one I knew was the legendary Bernie Casserly, with whom I was very well acquainted during his last fifteen years at the paper. I also knew Dan Medinger, who went on to service in Baltimore. Finally, I knew well Paulist Father Tom Comber, a fellow Philadelphian, who did much to promote the newspaper.
You can be proud of The Catholic Spirit. It serves your diocesan family well – and, indeed, it is one of the very best instruments for helping to form your diocesan family. All of you are fortunate indeed to have Archbishop John Nienstedt as your spiritual shepherd, but he is fortunate indeed to have The Catholic Spirit as an instrument of information, formation and inspiration in his historic and dynamic archdiocese.
Congratulations to him, to associate publisher Bob Zyskowski, to editor Joe Towalski, to the staff of and contributors to The Catholic Spirit – and to all of you, its subscribers and supports – on 100 years of dynamic, stimulating, informative and inspiring Catholic journalism in America’s heartland. God bless you all!