In work for the church and at the diocesan level, you often realize that news reporting for the Catholic Press is a long line of interwoven history – like a solid brass chain. Most often we journalists tell stories, but sometimes our stories feed others as well.
This week, Wisconsin lost its first poet laureate (2000-2004) when Ellen Kort of Appleton died on April 18. Ellen was a wonderful poet — but she was also a Catholic journalist and very supportive of creative writing. When I first connected with The Compass, Ellen was a regular correspondent for the paper. In fact, in 1983, she wrote a feature story about marriage and its struggles that won a Catholic Press award. Later, Ellen didn’t have time to write for The Compass, but she was still very supportive of her fellow writers – poets and journalists alike. She gave talks, led workshops and was even on the committee that selected Appleton’s first Sidewalk Poetry contest last year, in which I had entered a poem. I received a note from Ellen later on, encouraging my writing.
Another writer for The Green Bay Register (the predecessor of The Compass) also passed away last month. Grace Koss of Luxemburg wrote for The Register and The U.P. Catholic. I do not recall meeting her, but I understand that she contributed a regular column, called “Reaction,” as well as articles and book reviews.
Both Ellen and Grace remind journalists like myself that we are part of one long chain of tales that links the great ongoing story of the Church, the Body of Christ in the world. Our job is to share the links in that chain of events, and encourage others to do the same, down to the next generation of writers. That chain holds strong as new stories lead us into the future.