Our Sunday Visitor marks 100th anniversary with Mass, rededication
Catholic News Service photo
Archbishop John Noll, the founder of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper, is pictured in a combination photo with the first issue of the paper, May 5, 1912. OSV published a 128-page anniversary issue, spread out over four 32-page sections, with most pages havin g a reproduction of a front page from each year of the weekly newspaper's 100 years of publication.
Catholic News Service
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Our Sunday Visitor's centennial celebration is an opportunity to give thanks "as a company serving the church for 100 years" and to "rededicate ourselves" to the Catholic Church's mission, said the president and publisher on the Huntington-based operation.
Greg Erlandson said Our Sunday Visitor continues to carry out the vision of its founder, Archbishop John 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," he told Today's Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
Centennial events Sept. 28 included a symposium featuring talks by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, author Scott Hahn and attorney Helen Alvare. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend was the main celebrant of a special Mass of thanksgiving and rededication at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Eleven bishops and archbishops as well as priests from around the nation concelebrated the Mass.
Cardinal George and Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, also attended.
Archbishop Celli was the featured speaker at a dinner that followed the Mass.
John Francis Noll was baptized and received his first Communion and confirmation at the Fort Wayne cathedral. He also was ordained a priest there, in 1898, and a bishop in 1925. He was the fifth bishop of Fort Wayne. He was elevated to archbishop in 1953; he died in 1956. (The diocese was re-designated Fort Wayne-South Bend in 1960.)
The Catholic Church's focus on the new evangelization was a theme running through Our Sunday Visitor's celebration, which took place about two weeks prior to the opening of the Year of Faith, with its emphasis on the new evangelization. The special year begins Oct. 11.
In addition, the world's bishops will gather at the Vatican Oct. 7-28 for a synod dedicated to the new evangelization.
"Today it is good to remember his (Archbishop Noll's) 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 in his homily.
"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," the bishop 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 publisher through the national magazine The Parish Monthly. In 1912, he began a new newspaper named Our Sunday Visitor, which not only "countered anti-Catholic lies and attacks" of the time "but also educated the faithful on the truths of the Catholic faith," Bishop Rhoades noted.
Today the company has more than 1,700 Catholic book, pamphlet and textbook titles in print, and it delivers its flagship publication, OSV Newsweekly, via print, the Web and on e-devices.
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," the bishop said.
Anti-Catholic bigotry "cannot be neglected today," he continued.
"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," he said, "but also from other sources whose radical secularism and relativism cannot tolerate the church's proclamation of objective and universal truths and values."
Bishop Rhoades also said the church's "posture and attitude toward today's culture and world, of course, cannot be merely defensive. 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."
He called Our Sunday Visitor "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."
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, wrote a letter conveying Pope Benedict XVI's congratulations on its 100th anniversary. He 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.