When an occasion like the 600th issue of a publication happens, it is useful to look behind that number to see its significance.
NZ Catholic has been published for 24 years. In that time span, the average length of the paper has been 24 pages. On average, allowing for advertisements, each page has had about 1000 words of copy. Doing the maths, that equates to just under 15,000 pages and just under 15million words. But there has been a lot to write about. A few highlights – by no means exhaustive – are mentioned below.
There have been the major world events which have had major impacts on our society – the 9/11 terror attacks, the global financial crisis and, this year, the Covid-19 pandemic.
Church reaction to homegrown calamities have also been reported on. Examples include the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, the 2019 mosque killings and the 2010 Pike River mine disaster.
The life of NZ Catholic has also coincided with three pontificates – of St John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
Gatherings of bishops from around the world in synod have been reported on, with a focus on contributions from this country. Prominent recent examples include the synods of the family, on young people and vocational discernment, on the Amazon region. Older ones dealt with topics like Scripture, the Eucharist and the new evangelisation.
There was the canonisation of Australasia’s first saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in 2010. The paper has also faithfully reported progress in the cause of the Venerable Suzanne Aubert. The paper has also featured activities in jubilee years corresponding to the turn of the millennium and the Year of Mercy.
NZ Catholic has kept readers up to date with liturgical developments, including the “translation wars” over language of the Roman Missal. There was the release of a new missal for this country, in line with Liturgiam Authenticam, as well as a change of emphasis in Pope Francis’ motu proprio Magnum Principium.
NZ Catholic has faithfully reported on the appointments, ordinations, installations, resignations, retirements and deaths of about a dozen bishops in this country. There have also been hundreds of New Zealand vocations stories told – of diocesan priests, religious priests and religious brothers and sisters. If more of these were read, maybe we would have more vocations in this country.
This newspaper has also consistently reported on the pro-life cause. Many a conference speaker has been reported on – with topics ranging from bioethics to assisted suicide. There have also been eucharistic conventions, demonstrations, court cases petitions, coast-to-coast rosaries and many more instances of action by concerned people.
NZ Catholic has also reported on the shame, anger and sadness of the clergy abuse crisis over the years, in this country and overseas. We have not hidden from this issue.
The paper has also ventured into the digital space with website and social media presences, as well as the Being Frank blog about a decade ago.
And the paper has also faithfully reported New Zealand presences at various World Youth Days over the years, held in various countries. The 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney with Pope Benedict XVI stands out, especially with the “days in the diocese”, was a highlight.
NZ Catholic has tried to help Catholics in the build-up to several general elections, listing statements by bishops and candidates, as well as party policies.
There have been special editions over the years, treating topics as diverse as the Treaty of Waitangi, the Second Vatican Council, the death of St John Paul II, and the elevation of Archbishop John Dew to cardinal.
There are so many people to thank for all of this – staff, advertisers, promoters, contributors, columnists, printers, delivery agencies, board members and more. And very special thanks goes to publisher Bishop Patrick Dunn, who had published the paper for 24 years.
Special thanks must go to our faithful readers, without whom there would have been no paper. Please continue to support the mission of the Catholic media in this country – and encourage others to do likewise. This mission is essential for the Church to advance in thought and action, as Vatican II envisaged.