Over the weekend of Oct. 14-15, the Rochester Catholic Press Association, publisher of the Catholic Courier, distributed about 3,000 copies of a new Spanish-language newspaper El Mensajero Cat√≥lico — Spanish for “Catholic Messenger” or “Courier.”
The free newspaper will feature a mix of national and diocesan Catholic news, feature stories, photo essays and commentary, according to Karen Franz, general manager/editor.
The newspaper will be published the third Sunday of each month, and inserted into the bulletins of parishes or faith communities with large Spanish-speaking populations in Rochester, Brockport, Sodus, Geneva and Mount Morris, she said. The paper is also available in various other locations, she added, noting readers wishing to find out where they may obtain El Mensajero may call 585/529-9530 or toll-free at 800/600-3628.
Franz noted that the English-language Courier had published a Spanish page in the 1980s, but that the diocese has long wanted to do something more substantial for the estimated 65,000 Hispanic Catholics here. According to information on the diocese’s Web site, 15 parishes or faith communities offer Masses in Spanish throughout the diocese.
El Mensajero‘s inaugural edition included a welcome from Bishop Matthew H. Clark, who noted his pleasure at the paper’s publication.
“As publisher, I am very pleased to offer this new publication as part of the Diocese of Rochester’s ongoing effort to honor the rich and diverse culture, customs and faith of our growing Hispanic community,” the bishop said.
That pleasure was shared by Bernard Grizard, director of diocesan Parish Support Ministries, which oversees both the Spanish Apostolate and Migrant Ministry.
“This publication will help the broader community to be more conscious about the gifts that the Hispanic communities bring to all of us,” said Grizard, whose ministry groups contributed a variety of resources toward the newspaper’s development and production.
El Mensajero also will help the Spanish-speaking community be more knowledgeable about the diocese and the wider church, according to Elvy Delgado, secretary at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Rochester. The Guatemala native said she thought El Mensajero was very good.
“I think it’s needed for the people who speak Spanish because some of them don’t speak English,” she said.
The Spanish-language monthly is the result of extensive planning, having been in the works for several years, Franz said, adding that the Courier sought input from pastoral leaders serving the Spanish-speaking community in developing El Mensajero.
One leader whose input helped frame the new publication was Father Vincent P. Panepinto, pastor of the churches of Corpus Christi, Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Rochester, which all serve Spanish-speaking Catholics.
“The members of the Hispanic communities … with whom I have spoken were delighted,” Father Panepinto said when asked about initial reaction to the new paper.
In El Mensajero‘s first edition, newly hired bilingual reporter Annette Jim√©nez reported on the history of the Hispanic Catholic community in Rochester and about Father Laurence Tracy’s longtime ministry within that community.
The first issue also featured Bishop Clark’s “Along the Way” column (rendered in Spanish as En la Camina); a photo essay on Rochester’s annual Puerto Rican festival; national news related to immigration reform and hurricane relief; and a Scripture column called La Palabra de Dios (The Word of God), which will be written each month by one member of a rotating panel of pastoral leaders serving the Hispanic community, Franz said. The first column was penned by Brother Juan Lozada Roca, director of the diocesan Spanish Apostolate.
El Mensajero is the latest phase of the Courier’s strategic plan, the bulk of which was implemented in Easter 2004, Franz noted. At that time, the paper changed from a single weekly edition circulated to 45,000 area homes into a portfolio of monthly, weekly and electronic publications that reach 120,000 diocesan households.
El Mensajero is not available at the Courier‘s Web site (www.catholiccourier.com), but Franz said the Courier plans to establish a parallel site for the Spanish-language content during 2006.
Bishop Clark noted that he and the Courier staff are seeking input on the new paper, and urged readers who have any comments or suggestions for upcoming issues to call 585/303-8651, e-mail to email@example.com or write to El Mensajero Cat√≥lico, PO Box 24379, Rochester, NY 14624-0379.