Launching a memorable centennial year, and looking ahead

At the beginning of September, Our Sunday Visitor officially launched a yearlong marking of its centenary. The culmination will be Sept. 28, 2012, with a Mass in the cathedral of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., where we are located, and a celebration with guests from around the country. 

But there will be plenty in between. I’m most directly involved in plans for a special centennial issue of OSV Newsweekly, almost exactly 100 years after our May 5, 1912, launch.  

A copy of that first front page hangs outside my office, gazed at from the opposite wall by an oil painting of the newspaper’s founder and first editor, Father (later Archbishop) John Noll

first newspaper
Copy of the cover of the first Our Sunday Visitor newspaper

He started Our Sunday Visitor because he saw a pressing need among Catholic laity for reliable information, formation and inspiration. After five decades, the print run grew to more than 1 million copies. 

Father Noll’s desire to tap the best of the latest media technologies to communicate to Catholics is embodied to this day in our self-owned nonprofit company. Our Sunday Visitor can lay claim to being the largest English-language Catholic publishing house in the world, with half a dozen periodicals, a deep line of pamphlets for church vestibules, books and programs for both individuals and parishes, religious curriculum for Catholic schools, and offering envelopes and other stewardship aids for most Catholic parishes in the country. 

It is probably no stretch to say that, in one way or another, Our Sunday Visitor today touches the lives of the vast majority of active Catholics in the United States. 

And we do it twice: once, in the products themselves, and later in the programs and projects funded by Our Sunday Visitor Institute, our charitable arm. Any surplus generated by our normal activities is reinvested in the Church’s educational and other efforts, usually in the form of millions of dollars in grants each year. 

Archbishop Noll died in 1956, long before I was born. But I feel a strong personal connection to him. Maybe it’s partly the fact that his eyes in the oil painting seem to follow me as I walk by, as the faintest hint of a smile plays at the corner of his mouth. But it is also because at the start of our second 100 years, his vision, creativity and energy in the service of the Church remain inspiring. 

There’s another important piece to our centennial celebration: you, the reader. It is your desire to engage your faith more fully, and your trust in us as one means of assistance, that allows us to thrive and seek ever greater excellence. Thank you! 

Do you have any favorite OSV stories from over the years? Write, or the address below.