1932 and 2010 - The most recent issue of the Southern Nebraska Register, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Lincoln, is pictured with the first issue of the publication created in1932. Bishop Louis Kucera, pictured in the 1932 edition, founded the newspaper and it was produced as part of the Register System publishing service in Denver. The Register is now composed and printed locally. (SNR photo)
(SNR) - Pope Pius XI established Catholic Press Month in 1931, a year before the first issue of the Southern Nebraska Register rolled off the press. He understood the great significance of the printed word and exhorted the faithful to celebrate the Catholic news sources that bring them information, education and inspiration.
This February’s observance of Catholic Press Month comes at a time when secular news media has demonstrated increasing importance in terms of shaping public opinion and increasing bias regarding which stories are told and how they are presented.
John Norton, editor of Our Sunday Visitor, noted that last month’s March for Life in Washington D.C. received either distorted coverage in the mainstream media or no coverage at all. He called it a “glaring reminder of the need for Catholics to rely on their Catholic press.”
While the March for Life is one issue that Catholics could have expected to be reported in the mainstream media, there are many, many other topics that wouldn’t be of interest to any news outlet other than Catholic media sources.
The Southern Nebraska Register serves the people of the Diocese of Lincoln by informing and educating them about these topics.
“Our main intent is to get the news of the Church out – locally, nationally and internationally – but also to be something that will promote and champion the teachings of the Church,” said Father Nicholas Kipper, assistant editor of the Southern Nebraska Register since 2008.
This was the goal of Bishop Louis Kucera when he founded the Diocese of Lincoln’s newspaper 78 years ago. Initially, the Southern Nebraska Register was part of the Register System, a publishing service that made it economical and practical for individual dioceses to offer their own newspapers.
Back then, local editors would compile diocesan news and columns, which were sent to the Register System headquarters in Denver, Colo. There, the material would by laid out, proofed and printed as a diocesan section that was sandwiched inside a national news section.
As times changed and technology improved, it became far more feasible for each diocese to run its own newspaper office. During the 1970s and 1980s, international and national news stories arrived via satellite link, and computers assisted in writing and researching stories, photo processing and page layout.
The Register System was eventually dissolved, and the Southern Nebraska Register began working with a local printing company. In 1992, the format was switched from a broadsheet style newspaper to a tabloid size.
To fulfill its mission to present news of the Church, the Register receives stories from multiple news sources, including Catholic News Service, which is the official news source of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Vatican Information Service, Catholic News Agency, FIDES (the missionary news outlet of the Church), LifeSite news, EWTN News and other sources. Parishes across the diocese submit news and story ideas for local angles.
Father Kipper explained that the Register’s charge to educate readers about the teachings of the church takes a didactic approach in presenting, “what we believe in and why.”
This is accomplished through Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz’s scholarly column and features like “Ask the Register,” which is written anonymously by a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln. A variety of commentary from local and national Catholic authors and priests aid in the understanding of any number of topics.
When she opens the paper each week as it arrives, Arlene Svoboda turns to the local stories and columns first. A member of Sacred Heart Parish in Lawrence, she has been an avid reader of the Register ever since the late 1960s, when her children had become self-sufficient enough to allow her more reading time. “I enjoy reading the bishop’s column, and I like Father Kubat’s column,” she said.
She makes it a point to read “Ask the Register” for the easy-to-understand answers to theological and practical questions.
“Around the Diocese” is another of Mrs. Svoboda’s favorite sections, where she can catch up on news and events from parishes large and small. She also said she appreciates news articles about the Holy Father, which appear regularly in the Register.
Since 1968, the Register has been provided to every registered household in the diocese at the behest of Bishop Glennon Flavin, who recognized the Register’s value in terms of evangelization as well as education.
During Catholic Press Month, households can pay for their Register subscriptions through special collections at Mass or by mailing their payment to the Register address printed on page 3. Each parish must make up the difference for individuals who do not pay for their subscriptions.
Fortunately, the subscription is only a modest $15, which amounts to less than 35 cents an issue.
Mrs. Svoboda hopes that everybody will do his or her part.
“What can you get for $15 in this world today?” she asked. “It’s not much over a dollar a month, and we spend that kind of money for a lot of other things that are not as valuable to us,” she said.