The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 29, 2000 Issue
Local News

New magazine targets inspirations of youth

Inspire magazine seeks to fill young spiritual needs


By Rebecca Weiss
Compass Intern

Youths 11 and older now have a new magazine that provides Christian answers to the emotional and moral conflicts they face daily. Inspire, subtitled "The Youth Magazine with the Christian Inspiration," is published by the Franciscan Publishers of Pulaski who printed a sample issue in May in preparation for regular quarterly publication starting in November.

Inspire hopes to reach a young Christian audience and offer it spiritual guidance, promoting Christian morals and family values.

Dean Hartmann, president of operations, believes there is a shortage of moral and spiritual reflection in today's technology-oriented society. "There has definitely been a disintegration of morals and family values in the past 20 to 25 years," he notes. "Technology plays a part in that. There is less discipline, initiative and imagination. We are continuously making our lives better with new gadgets and equipment. But is that really making life better?"

Hartmann began developing the idea for the magazine with Fr. John Poudziunas, OFM, in 1997, when Hartmann started working for the Franciscan Publishers. "I was very interested in this magazine because I have three kids of my own who are at the age of the group we are aiming at. I know how many concerns kids have. I want to give kids the chance for self-expression and the feeling of being taken seriously."

Accordingly, Inspire offers its readers the opportunity to bring in their own thoughts and ideas. "We want to find out what the young today lack spiritually in order to address their needs," explains Hartmann. Using the magazine's website, the young can send in their own poetry, stories and suggestions for future issues.

The articles are intended to offer spiritual solace by revealing the positive effect of Christian life, and what it means to be Christian. They will deal with relationships, young people's common fears and anxieties, doubts, and dangers that confront the Christian direction. Regular items will be stories on those who believe and live in accordance with their Christian faith and how it has helped them cope in times of hardship.

Features that enlarge upon Scripture will be presented in an easily understood fashion.

Next to a calendar of events, Inspire will also contain an "Out and About" section of recommended Christian websites.

The Franciscans devised Inspire as an ecumenical project. Hartmann says the magazine will be "as generic as possible, without being numb" and largely stay away from controversial church issues. "We cannot be biased. Our main focus is on the young. Their belief in the Lord and conveying Christian morals to them is what counts."

The contributions will not only be from Christian writers. The magazine does not attempt to disregard the "objective view," as Hartmann puts it, "as long as it corresponds with our values and ethics and the writing is good."

Jan Oettinger, who runs the Christian Coffeehouse "Cup o' Joy" in downtown Green Bay, says she has confidence in the production team, which she has worked with before, and that she will be advertising in Inspire. She values the youth-oriented, ecumenical approach: "For families who are not of a particular denomination, or who don't go to church, this magazine is a way to fortify Christian values at home."

The sample issue contains a variety of articles. "Living for the Moment" by Fr. Gregory Plata, OFM, reflects upon the true meaning of a fulfilled Christian life in a world that lives in constant fear of demise.

Hartmann himself supplied two pieces. "Seek and Ye Shall Find" asks its readers to contemplate their daily struggle with sin; the characteristic feeling adolescents have of not being understood is the issue of "No One Listens to Me."

Jim Mohr's "God Would Want That" is the true story of a 15-year-old boy fighting leukemia who leans on his faith for strength.

Writing for Inspire is only a side project for Mohr, who is publication manager for AMS. "It's a labor of love to me," he says. Through his writing, Mohr seeks to "make an impact on young people, and motivate them to change their ways if necessary." With two teenage boys of his own and experience as a Sunday school teacher, Mohr has no trouble addressing adolescents.

"The subject matter strikes home," he acknowledges. "This generation is under more pressure to succeed, there's more competitiveness, and they have more adversity to deal with. I hope to make kids aware that there are crutches in religion to help them walk, and that they are not alone."

So far, Hartmann has gotten a lot of positive feedback for Inspire. At the recent 'Lifest' in Oshkosh, youth organizations, including the Rawhide Boys Ranch and an inner city youth group in Milwaukee, received samples of Inspire enthusiastically. "We even had therapists who deal with troubled teens asking for subscriptions for their practice. The response has been great," says Hartmann.

"I got very favorable reactions after I handed out samples in my shop," says Oettinger, who also supplied youth pastors with samples to integrate them in their parish program.

Hartmann hopes that more parishes and Catholic schools will use Inspire magazine in their religious education classes.

"There is so much negativity in the world today. We hope to show kids that in spite of it, there is a lot of good out there, and people who listen and share."

To learn more about Inspire visit their website at www.inspiremagazine.com



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