|7/14/2014 8:14:00 AM|
Mary Ann Walsh to leave USCCB media relations to become new America correspondent
Catholic News Service photo
Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, media relations director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks after accepting the President's Medallion from the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals June 21 at the annual Catholic Media Convention i n Denver.
Catholic News ServiceNEW YORK — America Magazine , announced July 11 that the Jesuit-run magazine has named Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh as its U.S. church correspondent.
Sister Walsh is the current director of the Office for Media Relations of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Communications in Washington and will step down from that post this summer.
In her new role, Sister Walsh will be responsible for planning and producing America's coverage of the U.S. Catholic Church. In addition to feature writing, Sister Walsh will make contributions to America's blogs and other digital platforms and will write a column on the U.S. church for the print edition.
Sister Walsh's appointment is the latest development in the most dramatic expansion of America's domestic and international coverage in 30 years, according to the magazine.
"We are delighted to welcome Sister Mary Ann to America," her new bosses said. "Her unique experience and unparalleled knowledge of the U.S. Church will be a great boon for our growing readership. And her appointment is a significant 'first' in another way: Sister Mary Ann will be the first Religious sister to serve on America's editorial staff in our long, storied history."
Helen Osman, secretary for communications at the U.S. bishops' conference, said that Sister Walsh "is leaving a large hole for us to fill at USCCB Communications. It's hard to think of anyone else with her depth of journalism experience, knowledge of the church, and understanding of modern media."
"In addition, she is widely respected by journalists, both secular and Catholic," Osman said. "I will miss her tremendously, but I'm consoled that the church will continue to benefit from her great gifts and talents."
America is one of the nation's leading Catholic weekly magazines and covers religion, politics and culture. Founded in 1909 by the Jesuit order, it is directed today by Jesuits and lay staff members. America describes itself as "a resource for spiritual renewal and social analysis guided by the spirit of charity."
Sister Walsh is a member of the Northeast community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. She holds a master's degree in English from the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, and a master's degree in pastoral counseling from what is now Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.
She began her journalism career with The Evangelist, newspaper of her native Diocese of Albany, before serving as a correspondent for Catholic News Service in Rome and Washington. She was director of communications for World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 and then began her work in media relations for the U.S. bishops.
She coordinated the media efforts of the U.S. cardinals during both the 2005 and 2013 papal transitions.
Sister Walsh is an award-winning writer and has been published in The Washington Post, USA Today, and Editor & Publisher, among others, and is the editor of three books: "Pope John Paul II: A Light for the World"; "From John Paul II to Benedict XVI: An Inside Look at the End of an Era"; and "Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy."
In June 2013, during the Catholic Media Conference in Denver, Sister Walsh received the President's Medallion from the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals. It's the highest honor given by the organization.
Sally Oberski, president of the Catholic Academy, director of communications and public relations for the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, said the award was "long overdue recognition to someone who has served for many years and continues to serve in an outstanding manner."
In accepting the honor Sister Walsh said she often described the job of Catholic communicators as godfather duty, joking, "God, Father, you didn't say that."
She said when she first started in Catholic communications, someone asked her if she would be loyal to the church or to journalism. She said she replied that she would be "loyal to the truth" and there would not be a problem.
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