In this the age of communication and information, I find it extremely interesting reading the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him, nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:1-5)”
At the very heart of our belief is the realization that Jesus the “Word” became flesh (Incarnation). The task that all believers share is the communication of the “word,” the person of Jesus Christ. Communication is essential to proclaiming the message. As always, the most effective statement is embedded in the life of the believer. Personally sharing the story of Jesus’ love transforming our lives inspires us in many ways. We are all called to testify to Jesus the Son of God. I am always moved by the testimony of those who embrace the faith.
The written word has been very influential in the formation of our belief. The Scriptures gives us the inspired word of God and the testimony of believers. Our friend St. Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles uses letters to communicate the faith to fledgling Christian communities, supporting them and encouraging their commitment. But, in our modern world we need the support of technological instruments of social media to assist us in telling the story.
The written word has a number of forms in our archdiocese. You are reading the Catholic Herald. The Catholic newspaper is a means that individuals and families can use to invite the “good” stories about the faith into their homes and workplaces. It was very obvious to me that the secular news outlets were not interested in the good stories and the human interest perspectives of the Catholic Church. As an archdiocese, we decided that the newspaper should reflect those stories and introduce our faithful to the people that dedicate their lives to the living reality of the Catholic faith.
Since the transformation of the paper, which occurred a few months ago, I have been approached by dozens of people who have told me how much they enjoy the paper and how much they are learning about the activities of the Church throughout southeastern Wisconsin. A number told me that they read the paper from cover to cover. Some especially enjoyed being introduced to the priests, religious and lay leaders that help to shape our communities. Imagine it, right now you are reading the column that I prepared for publication; thank you for being involved and please encourage others to read the paper.
Another aspect of the written word is through email. I write a weekly 400- to 700–word reflection called the LOA (Love One Another). Sometimes it’s pietistic, sometimes it’s nostalgic, sometimes informative; hopefully, it allows the reader access to my personal understandings and feelings. As Archbishop of hundreds of thousands of Catholic, the office can obscure the person but I want people to understand that I am a believer just like them and even raised with some of the same experiences.
There is the archdiocesan web page. Information about the archdiocese, times and places of Masses, events that are up and coming or have taken place, and the various offices charged with specific responsibilities. Use your computers, iPads or iPhones to visit the web page and you will be impressed at all the activities and offerings the archdiocese presents for the faithful in order to enhance their participation.
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, we have been blessed to enhance our communication capacity. A dear friend, Fr. Ted Schmidt, who was my former student and a priest of the archdiocese of Chicago, realized the importance of social media in spreading the gospel. Fr. Ted left funds in his will to be used to further evangelization through radio and video production. Fr. Ted worked in Hollywood and understood the importance of media productions. In fact, he was associated with Frank Capra productions. Capra was the producer of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a favorite of the Christmas season. Through his generosity, we have expanded and renovated our radio and TV studios, naming the production facility the FTS studios (Father Ted Schmidt Studios).
We utilize the radio studio to produce our Relevant Radio show, which is aired at 9:30 a.m. Friday mornings and repeated on Saturday and Sunday. Fr. Ted was one of our interviewees in the old studio, which was a bit larger than a closet. Our new studio is close to professional and certainly impressive for a Catholic archdiocese. We have produced various promotional spots in order to support Catholic groups and events. They are broadcast ready. A very popular radio show is “Two Guys and a Gospel,” which features the interaction of Fr. Phil Bogacki and Fr. Ricard Martin. They discuss the gospel reading for the coming week. These two priest friends with slightly different perspectives share their insights and make the gospel message come alive. Perhaps you’ve seen the electronic billboards with my advent and Christmas messages. This is an extension of what some call my radio commercials, the Advent and Lent 30-second spots which air on the radio.
We are blessed to have a creative and competent communication department led by Amy Grau and her staff: Amy Taylor, Heidi Heistad, Gina Rupcic, Meghan Endter, Maria Prado, Sarah Toepfer and Marcy Stone. Into their hands is entrusted the “word.” They will employ every form of social media so that the faithful of our archdiocese will receive our messages in the most productive and creative means possible.
With Christmas less than two weeks away, share your story of God’s love for you and spread the “word.”