Our Sunday Visitor marks centennial anniversary with Mass of thanksgiving and rededication
FORT WAYNE — With a spirit of thanksgiving and rededication, the board of directors and staff of Our Sunday Visitor, located in Huntington, celebrated their centennial anniversary of Friday, Sept. 28, at the Grand Wayne Center and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.
The day included a symposium featuring Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and nationally acclaimed speakers and authors Helen Alvaré and Scott Hahn. Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, was the featured speaker at a dinner that followed the Mass.
The celebration fell just prior to the opening of the Year of Faith, with its emphasis on the New Evangelization and begins Oct. 11.
“This anniversary is a way to give thanks from each of us as we are perceived as a company serving the Church for 100 years and to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Church as articulated by Bishop (John F.) Noll — that is to help form Catholics in their faith, to inform them about the events in the world as seen through the eyes of the faith, and finally defend the Church when necessary,” Greg Erlandson, president of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, told Today’s Catholic.
At the Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne celebrating the centennial and rededication to its mission, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who also serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Our Sunday Visitor, said, “It is very appropriate that we celebrate the centennial Mass of Our Sunday Visitor here in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception where its venerable founder, John Francis Noll, was baptized and received his first Holy Communion and Confirmation. Here, too, Father Noll was ordained a priest and a bishop. He was the fifth bishop of Fort Wayne and shepherded the diocese for 31 years, from 1925 until his death in 1956.”
Attending the Mass was Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago. Several bishops and priests from across the United States and Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, concelebrated.
“Today it is good to remember his extraordinary life and legacy, particularly his role as founder of Our Sunday Visitor, one of the largest Catholic publishing houses in the world,” Bishop Rhoades said as he reflected upon the life of Bishop Noll.
“His first 14 years as a priest included ministry in a number of parishes, where he had already become known for his defense of the Catholic faith at a time of much anti-Catholic bigotry,” Bishop Rhoades said. “He had already begun his life’s work of explaining the truths of the Catholic faith with clarity to Catholics and Protestants alike. He did so in preaching and in writing.”
Then Father Noll was recognized nationally as a Catholic publicist through the national magazine The Parish Monthly. In 1912, he began a new newspaper named Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington.
“The immediate context was to defend the Church from the virulently anti-Catholic periodical called The Menace, a hate-filled publication that unleashed a wave of anti-Catholic bigotry around the country,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Our Sunday Visitor was a weekly national newspaper that not only countered anti-Catholic lies and attacks, but also educated the faithful on the truths of the Catholic faith. The rest is history.”
Today Our Sunday Visitor continues its mission in evangelization, “its mandate to spread the Gospel, and its service to the truth. This mission includes the defense of the faith. This aspect of the mission, prominent at the founding of OSV during a time of widespread anti-Catholic bigotry, cannot be neglected today,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Anti-Catholicism has rightly been called ‘the last acceptable prejudice,’ and is seen today in the animosity toward the Catholic Church from various sources, most crudely perhaps in the influential entertainment industry, but also from other sources whose radical secularism and relativism cannot tolerate the Church’s proclamation of objective and universal truths and values.”
“The Church’s posture and attitude toward today’s culture and world, of course, cannot be merely defensive,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We are called to propose in a creative and dynamic way the truth of the Gospel, the word of God, as a response to the yearning for truth, meaning, and fulfillment that is in the heart of every person.”
Bishop Rhoades said, “Our Sunday Visitor has been a shining example of the lay faithful exercising their prophetic role through the media in service to evangelization and continues to seek new ways of proclaiming the Gospel through traditional and new media.”
In a letter conveying the congratulations of Pope Benedict XVI on the 100th anniversary of Our Sunday Visitor, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, wrote, “As the universal Church engages in the work of the New Evangelization, which reminds us of her perennial mission of leading all people to the fullness of life and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and on the threshold of the Year of Faith, the Holy Father is confident that Our Sunday Visitor will continue to respond with the same deep and zealous faith which has marked and inspired its efforts these past 100 years.”
Bishop Rhoades offered a special blessing on the board members and staff of Our Sunday Visitor at the end of the Mass.