A 'unifying force' for three generations
For nearly three generations, The Catholic Post and its predecessor, The Register, have been a powerful unifying force for Catholics in the geographically large Diocese of Peoria in north central Illinois.
More than 3,700 weekly issues of the diocesan newspaper have been published since it was founded in 1934 by Bishop Joseph H. Schlarman.
Individually, each issue provides a snapshot of the living Church both local and worldwide through accurate news reporting and compelling commentary. Considered as a whole, The Catholic Post’s archives furnish an unmatched and invaluable resource of local church history.
Writing in the debut issue of The Register on April 1, 1934, Bishop Schlarman consecrated the newspaper “to the apostolate of truth, of virtue, morality and social justice for the good of souls, for the glory of God and His Church, and for the welfare of our beloved country.”
Through ensuing years, the publication has been a trusted source of information, inspiration, and formation in the faith for tens of thousands of Catholic families living in communities from Rock Island to Danville, from Lincoln to LaSalle.
Originally printed in Denver, Colo., as part of the pioneering “Register” chain of diocesan newspapers, its name was changed to The Catholic Post in 1969 when both production and printing was moved within the diocese.
Writing on the occasion of The Catholic Post’s 50th anniversary in 1984, Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke noted the paper “is esteemed as an outstanding publication not only in the Peoria diocese but also among journalists throughout the nation.” The paper’s journalistic excellence regularly receives recognition from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.
In fact, two of its former editors, – the late Msgr. Robert G. Peters and Albina Aspell – served terms as president of the Catholic Press Association. Both are also recipients of the association’s highest honor, the St. Francis de Sales Award.
Consistency and experience have been hallmarks of the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria. In its 75-year history, the paper has had only five editors. (Msgr. Peters holds the longevity record of 38 years as editor. He would later serve as publisher and business manager, and his skills in both journalism and use of changing technologies are considered legendary in the Catholic press.)
The present editor, Thomas J. Dermody, is in his 16th year as editor and 29th year on the newspaper’s staff
Four locations have housed the newspaper’s offices, with early issues assembled in a parish rectory or the basement of the diocesan chancery. For six decades, a former residence at 409 N. E. Monroe in Peoria was home to The Catholic Post family. In November of 2008, the newspaper staff joined other diocesan offices in the newly constructed Spalding Pastoral Center near St. Mary’s Cathedral. The Post is located on the new building’s third floor.
The Catholic Post is one of the few diocesan newspapers in the United States able to operate with no financial assistance from its host diocese. With a present print circulation of 16,000, it is supported wholly by subscriptions and advertising. A long-standing key to the paper’s success is the support of parish pastors, who trust its content and see it as a cost-effective adult education, communication, and evangelization tool.
Since 1965, The Catholic Post has also published an annual diocesan directory of parishes, institutions, and clergy.
Other highlights of the newspaper’s rich history include:
- The publication in 1977 of a 128-page commemorative supplement to mark the Diocese of Peoria’s centennial;
- An address by editor Albina Aspell to the full assembly of the 1987 world Synod of Bishops on the laity meeting in Rome. Mrs. Aspell urged church officials to be open in providing information, saying “a free flow of information has the power to avert problems; it can stop rumor and erase suspicion.” Access to information and newsmakers in the church “is the lifeblood of Catholic communications,” she said.
- The retirement of Msgr. Peters in 1992 after 47 years guiding the publication. “We’ve tried to be credible by presenting a picture of the church as it is – both liberal and conservative – without being dishonest abut it, and all the while still being faithful to the teachings of the church,” he said in an interview.
The Catholic Post is now excitedly embracing new ways to fulfill its mission as technology advances. Its online edition provides daily updates to the weekly print copy, and its searchable archive makes past issues available to researchers not only around the diocese but around the world with the click of a “mouse.”
In February of 2005, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, publisher, announced the first Board of Directors for The Catholic Post.
“As we count our blessings in this diocese,” wrote Bishop O’Rourke in 1984, “surely one of those blessings is the outstanding Catholic newspaper which has served us these 50 years.” With the grace and blessing of God, may the same be said 50 years from now, whatever new and exciting opportunities the future holds.