Telling the human story: One role of the Catholic press

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | January 29, 2020

One of the most popular features in this newspaper is the weekly profile of everyday Catholics living out their faith. We call it “Your Catholic Neighbor.”

People enjoy reading human interest stories, particularly about the hardships other people face and how they overcome challenges with prayer, action and trust in God.

Storytelling is also found in the writings of our columnists. When a writer is able to weave personal stories — often called anecdotes — into a column, it makes the story relatable. Ordained ministers also use anecdotes in their homilies to help the faithful make connections between Scripture and real life.

Pope Francis knows very well the impact stories can have in communicating a message. In fact, he devoted his World Communications Day message to the theme of storytelling.

“Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us,” the pope said in the introduction of his World Communications Day message, issued on Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

This year’s World Communications Day is May 24. The pope’s 2020 message was based on the theme, “‘That you may tell your children and grandchildren’: Life becomes history.” This theme comes from the Book of Exodus, which describes how God intervenes in the history of his people, said Pope Francis.

“The God of life communicates with us through the story of life,” he said.

The pope refers to sacred Scripture as “a story of stories,” and he gives the example of the stories Jesus shared through parables. What happens when we hear those parables, the pope said, is that “they become part of the life of those who listen to it, and it changes them.”

Listening to Pope Francis, it becomes clear that storytelling plays an important role in building up God’s kingdom on earth.

“Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, song, news, even if we do not always realize it,” said Pope Francis. “Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behavior. They can help us understand and communicate who we are.”

February is Catholic Press Month. This annual celebration is not only a time to give thanks for the role of Catholic newspapers like The Compass in communicating the word of God. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the ways we can heed Pope Francis’s call to become better storytellers.

The story of missionary discipleship is one that now resonates with Catholics in the Diocese of Green Bay. The diocesan vision statement reminds us, “We are missionary disciples striving to lead all people to the kingdom of God.” Through storytelling, The Compass aims to make this vision a reality.

As we celebrate Catholic Press Month, we thank readers for the opportunity to inform and inspire through the printed word, through social media offerings and through visual storytelling. We also encourage readers to share story suggestions that can inspire others, whether about people, events or ministries.

Storytelling and forming missionary disciples go hand-in-hand. In the words of Pope Francis: “To tell our story to the Lord is to enter into his gaze of compassionate love for us and for others. We can recount to him the stories we live, bringing to him the people and the situations that fill our lives.”

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