At the Mass of Reception on January 26, I told you about my surprise and delight when first encountering the Rhode Island State Flag with its Christian and Biblical symbol of the anchor and the motto “Hope.” I told you then how grateful I felt to live in the State of Hope. That gratitude has only intensified in the months since that day as I have had the opportunity to visit so many communities, parishes, and schools in the Diocese of Providence. Thank you for the many times and ways that you have welcomed me to this beautiful state. As I now undertake the new ministry of serving as the Diocesan Bishop, I would like to offer some weekly thoughts in this column. It seemed fitting to recall my first words to you and entitle this column “The State of Hope.”
I am so pleased that this paper, the Rhode Island Catholic, has survived and thrived when so many other similar publications have ceased in recent decades. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Bishop Tobin for his steadfast support of Catholic news and to the extraordinary staff of this paper for their creativity, commitment, and hard work. It has been wonderful to see behind the scenes as Rick Snizek and his team work to bring us news from Providence and from the Universal Church. With a small staff and limited resources, they make deadline every week with a terrific paper – a fact recently acknowledged by three awards from the Rhode Island Press Association and more than 100 national Catholic press awards over the past several years alone.
I consider this paper a critical resource for evangelization and the life of the Church. It does not surprise me that the Rhode Island Catholic’s subscription numbers have been on the rise. You, too, see its value and honor the hard work of our team. I would like to see those subscription numbers rise further, and for this I will need your help. Would you consider telling your family, friends, and neighbors about the Rhode Island Catholic? Maybe you might even offer a gift subscription? In a time when too much of contemporary media is toxic in its polarity and so often hostile to the Catholic Faith, we need to maintain and strengthen this mission which builds up the life and faith of the Church. We need a forum where we can connect, inform, and deepen our knowledge of the faith. We need a place to keep Catholics up to date on the challenges to our parishes and institutions and our shared efforts to meet those challenges.
During my time in Rhode Island, I have learned to value our “smallness” in the sense that we live in a state that operates on a human scale. It’s part of what makes Rhode Island so unique. In the State of Hope, a paper like the Rhode Island Catholic can make a significant impact — especially as other print media falter. I hope that this paper, thriving and growing, will prove to be another sign of that Rhode Island difference.