Some weeks ago, parishes in the Diocese of Superior began receiving bundled issues of the Superior Catholic Herald. The decision to send the additional newspapers – made by Bishop James P. Powers after months of consultation with the Presbyteral Council – was designed to solve two problems. First, the newspaper has been running a deficit for more than a year, due to growing expenses, falling subscription numbers (parishes are mandated to provide subscriptions, but for various reasons, it doesn’t always happen) and a lack of advertising staff to reach out to businesses; and second, of the 21,000 registered Catholic households in the diocese, only about 7,500 were receiving the newspaper.

As this publication is both the official source for diocesan announcements and an important facet of Bishop Powers’ ministry, both deficiencies needed to be corrected.

As a result, parishes are finding themselves with a larger monthly bill – which can be financially challenging, especially for smaller parishes in remote areas – and extra newspapers that sometimes end up in the recycling bin, despite the priest’s announcement that they are available. As one secretary put it, “I think it’s just tourists who have been taking them.”

After reading her email, I thought, “That’s kind of great, actually, that tourists are getting the paper.” That’s really what we are working toward – drawing people not only into one Sunday’s worship, but also into our diocesan church – making them feel welcome, reminding them of the unity and universality that really typifies Catholicism. This is a community effort.

From a practical perspective, too, we know that many vacationers are also second-home owners with plans to retire in the area. When they transition to living here, they should already feel like the church, both at the local and diocesan level, is a friendly and familiar place.

But I also think it’s more important to remember that about two-thirds of registered Catholic families are not getting the paper – likely because many don’t attend regularly – and in the spirit of missionary discipleship, we are tasked with reaching them. How do we do this, if they don’t show up?

Well, if you are a local business owner with a stand for brochures, grab a couple of extra papers and put them out. If you are visiting residents at a nursing home or assisted living facility, take a few newspapers along. I’m not sure about jail regulations, but if you are in that ministry and it’s permitted, bring papers for the inmates. Knowing that Catholics tend to go to church on Easter and Christmas, if you are a parish employee, keep a few back issues for those occasions and make the display a little more noticeable – who knows, they may grab a couple. If you are a parish hosting a community event, put newspapers in an accessible place.

If you are a parish member who has not been getting the paper and would like a subscription, contact your church office. The newspaper is also a tool to strengthen each parish’s ministry – parishioners who are more engaged in their faith will likewise be more engaged with their Catholic communities – and so we also invite parishes that don’t regularly send us submissions to do so. If you are a council or committee member, staffer or just an attendee at an interesting event, send a photo and cutline information to , and we’ll get it in.

We American Catholics have a long history of being tight-lipped about our faith. Newspapers provide an easy means of reaching people without feeling like you’re being pushy – even if you hand one out, no one is obligated to read it – and print publications still offer a resonance, with their physical presence, that digital documents cannot claim. It is – like the tourism-touting brochures enticing travelers to visit communities across the region – a tool we can all use.