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Editorial: Our Sunday Visitor’s mission ‘of incalculable worth’

Bishop John Francis Noll. OSV file photo

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In the first editorial ever written for Our Sunday Visitor, Father John Francis Noll, founder, laid out his case for the weekly publication that would end up being one of the most influential newspapers of the 20th century.

The “best thing outside of heaven,” he wrote in the piece signed simply “Sunday Visitor,” “is the true faith, which is capable of leading us to heaven.

“And hence any influence which strengthens this faith, which nourishes it, which protects it from ‘the gates of hell,’ which places it within the reach of those who have it not, is of incalculable worth,” he wrote.

Of incalculable worth. That is Catholic media. That is Our Sunday Visitor.

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Those of us behind the production of Our Sunday Visitor are not just crafting a newspaper. We are living a mission. A mission to help Catholics better understand their faith so that they may be able both to defend it and to share it with others. A mission to help Catholics become more informed about what’s happening in the world and why these events must matter to people of faith. A mission to bring our readers to the truth, to form them in their faith and to give them a wholly Catholic perspective on the issues that matter the most. And we pledge to do all of this guided by the virtue of charity — speaking the truth in a way that seeks unity in our increasingly polarized world.

In many ways, the Church is in the midst of a perfect storm, threatened on the outside by the winds of secularism and a rapidly shifting culture, and threatened from the inside by our own decrease in members, a lack of understanding of our own faith and the catastrophic clergy sexual abuse scandal. In the early days of Our Sunday Visitor, Father Noll faced his own challenges — many of them similar. But he recognized, as do we, that a perfect storm also gives rise to perfect opportunity.

Once again we turn to the first editorial: “Since our faith is in the greatest danger from our irreligious environment, from the many temptations of the world, and particularly from the anti-Christian literature which has daily entry into our homes, nothing, outside the Church’s sacraments, is so needful as a Printing Press devoted to the cause of truth, the refutation of error, one hard at work to produce the antidote.”

We still believe that. And though media has diversified from the printing press in the last 100 years, the cause remains the same: the cause of truth, the cause of Jesus Christ.

On this week’s cover, we celebrate the life and legacy of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the media pioneer, evangelist and frequent contributor to Our Sunday Visitor for over two decades. Archbishop Sheen, who likely will be declared blessed by the Church within the next year, embodies evangelization with charity. He was not afraid to speak the truth, but he did so in a way that attracted people to it. As Michael Heinlein notes in the In Focus (Pages 9-12 online Sept. 13), part of Archbishop Sheen’s success came from his ability to speak convincingly and from the heart. We strive to do likewise.

Let’s look one more time at that first editorial. Father Noll, whose tireless efforts on behalf of Catholic media led to his elevation to the honorary title of archbishop, questioned why more Catholics weren’t seeking Catholic information. “What is the reason for this, our good Catholic people,” he asked, that “you do not patronize the Catholic paper and read the same, despite every entreaty?”

We know the challenges of today’s world. The demands for time and attention. The allure of distractions and of the culture. Too often, growing in faith isn’t a priority. But, if it’s really the best thing outside of heaven, as Father Noll reminds us, then it must become not only a priority, but our top priority.

Our Sunday Visitor is here to help you on your journey in faith. We are here to speak the truth, with charity, in a way that unites. If you are a regular subscriber, we are grateful for your support, and we hope that you will continue to be a part of our family for a long time. If you aren’t familiar with us, take a look and consider subscribing. Because any influence that strengthens our faith is of incalculable worth.

Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young

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