GREEN BAY — More than 350 Catholic journalists and communicators visited Green Bay for the 2018 Catholic Media Conference at the KI Center and Hyatt Regency Hotel June 13-15.
“It was an excellent conference,” said Tim Walter, president of the Catholic Press Association (CPA), which sponsors the annual conference. “I heard nothing but positive comments from members.”
He said that registration for the three-day conference had increased this year and people enjoyed Green Bay, as well as the conference center and hotel. “I heard a lot of nice comments on just how friendly everybody was, how clean Green Bay was, how nice it was to get around,” Walter said. “Just the whole hospitality aspect was very much appreciated by members.”
“It is still surreal to comprehend the talent and faith-filled presence of those who visited Green Bay,” said Kawula, the advertising and marketing manager at The Compass and conference organizer. “It was the people and the relationships — relationships with Jesus and with one another — which made this conference so very special. Their presence was a blessing to all of us who serve in northeast Wisconsin. A gift of the Holy Spirit in each and every attendee will forever impact our community.”
Based on feedback she received, Kawula said the conference “couldn’t have gone better.”
“One attendee even said, ‘I didn’t really know how much I was going to love Green Bay, but it is now my favorite city and I didn’t expect that,’” said Kawula.
Conference attendees had the chance to take part in the favorite past times of many locals, such as touring the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and sampling squeaky cheese curds from Renard’s Cheese.
On Wednesday evening, visitors attended Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion and participated in a rosary walk. Walter said that visitors really enjoyed visits to both Lambeau Field and the shrine.
Participants also attended various workshops and sessions throughout the conference, which covered a variety of topics, from getting into the habit of writing to using drones for photography and videography.
On Thursday, Emily Hartzog and Karli Smith, the vice presidents of Chartwell Agency, gave the talk, “Are Your Communications Integrated?” The talk focused on how parishes and schools can strategically plan communication strategies to spread the word about a parish or school’s brand.
Hartzog and Smith explained the difference between owned, earned and paid communications when building an integrated communication plan (ICP). The speakers explained the amount of control organizations have in the development and distribution of these factors when developing tactics for sending messages to different age groups.
“All of these groups need information, but they need it in different ways,” says Hartzog. The speakers emphasized tailoring messages and means of distribution to specific age groups.
Later that afternoon, a panel discussion, “Communicating the Joy of the Gospel,” featured guest speakers Dr. Natasa Govekar, director of theological-pastoral department of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication; Bishop David Ricken; Franciscan Sr. Marie Kolbe, chair of the Department of Theology and Ministry at Silver Lake; and Julianne Stanz, the director of discipleship and leadership development for the Diocese of Green Bay.
Panelists discussed sharing the Gospel using media in today’s society, the spreading of “fake news” and challenges faced when engaging parishioners and young people in the Gospel.
“Eighty percent of U.S. parishioners cannot express a relationship with God,” said Bishop Ricken. He said that the country suffers from incredible spiritual poverty. He also emphasized that the Catholic Church should be a missionary church and stressed the importance of taking time to pray.
Sr. Marie Kolbe said that encountering Jesus is a personal responsibility, but it is an encounter of mercy.
“When you find this joy inside you, you won’t want to abandon it at any time for any reason,” said Dr. Govekar.
On Friday, panelists Patricia Kasten, associate editor of The Compass, Mike Krokos, editor of The Criterion in Indianapolis, and Mary Uhler, editor of The Catholic Herald in Madison, discussed writing editorials and answered questions from an audience of 23. Each of the panelists has won awards for editorials.
Most journalists attending the session indicated that their publications include editorials. Even those whose publications do not publish editorial attended the session in order to learn more about writing editorials and how including them could benefit publications.
“The trick is to bring a Catholic viewpoint, as well as an opinion to the editorial,” said Kasten. Editors should avoid bringing their own personal opinion, and instead bring Catholic social teaching, the catechism’s view, or popes’ statements. Kasten explained that she uses theologian, Karl Barth’s, teaching in her approach to editorials, which is to imagine holding the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.
The panelists discussed choosing topics to write about, writing about controversial topics, differences between Catholic and secular publications and handling feedback.
Krokos said that it is important for him to give readers Catholic guidance and to pray so that God can work through him.
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