When The Catholic Northwest Progress published its first issue, I wonder if Bishop Edward J. O’Dea foresaw that its impact would last more than 100 years.
The Pacific Northwest was a much different place in those days, and the diocesan see had only recently been transferred from Vancouver to Seattle. Two World Wars were still to come, as well as tremendous growth for the state and the Catholic Church in this part of the country.
Not only would new parishes and schools be opened through the decades; outreach to the poor, the promotion and protection of human rights and work for peace would become hallmarks of the Church in Western Washington.
The diocese would become an archdiocese in 1951 in recognition of its growing ecclesial stature and its importance as a port on the Pacific coast. The archbishop of Seattle would be the youngest American bishop to attend a worldwide ecumenical council, and future archbishops would continue the great work done by all their predecessors.
Vision paid off
It boggles the mind to ponder what has taken place here since the first priest, a Franciscan missionary, set foot on the Pacific coast of what is now Washington state, in 1775.
Although it would be 50 more years before priests came from Montreal to set up permanent residence here, and more than 75 years before Mother Joseph and other Sisters of Providence would arrive to set up schools and hospitals, the seed of the Church had been sown. Ever since, the seed has flourished and produced great fruit.
It apparently seemed clear to Bishop O’Dea that with the growth of the Church here, a vehicle of communication was needed to connect, inform, teach and strengthen the Catholics in his vast territory. His vision paid off, and for more than 100 years The Catholic Northwest Progress has served us remarkably well.
Behind the publication, of course, were dedicated staff members — clergy, religious and lay — who worked hard to accomplish the newspaper’s mission. Since this is the last issue of The Progress, I want to express my gratitude to all of them, living and deceased. They provided an invaluable service to the Church in Western Washington.
Although the ways people communicate are changing rapidly, it will always be important for the members of the Church to stay in touch.
American culture has grown increasingly individualistic, and the Church continuously proclaims that we are one in the body of Christ, and that every means must be sought to proclaim and strengthen that unity. The Eucharist and the other sacraments are the most important cause and expression of our unity, but practical communication will always be critical as well.
As we transition to a magazine format this fall (a magazine that will be sent to every household enrolled in our parishes), we will seek to enhance every vehicle of communication that modern technology offers us — not just our website, but many other forums of social media as well.
Ironically, with all the means of communication at our disposal, many people feel increasingly isolated. Strong efforts on the part of the Church to reach out to its members (and beyond!) are needed now more than ever.
Everyone must know that he or she is loved by God, is an important member of the Church, and that God’s word reaches out to them as an anchor of faith and hope in daily life.
This final issue of The Progress, then, is our way of saying “thank you” to the staff who worked hard for us over more than a century, and to readers like you who benefitted from the newspaper.
God bless you for your efforts! I have no doubt they have borne fruit in ways far beyond counting.
June 27, 2013