Fort Wayne, Ind., Oct 4, 2012 / 03:02 pm (CNA).- Our Sunday Visitor celebrated its 100th anniversary with a symposium, Mass, and dinner on Sept. 28, attended by several prominent U.S. bishops, academics and speakers.
The paper is “a shining example of the lay faithful exercising their prophetic role through the media in service to evangelization,” Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend said during his homily.
Bishop Rhoades presided over the Mass, which was concelebrated by 11 bishops and numerous priests at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.
Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, was the featured speaker at the dinner following the liturgy.
Our Sunday Visitor was founded by then-Father John Noll to defend the Church against “anti-Catholic bigotry,” Bishop Rhoades explained.
Fr. Noll was ordained for the Diocese of Fort Wayne in 1898, and eventually became its bishop in 1925. In 1912, he launched the paper to counter anti-Catholicism and to educate “the faithful on the truths of the Catholic faith.” The newspaper proved immensely popular, and by 1914 had a circulation of 400,000.
During his homily, Bishop Rhoades commended Our Sunday Visitor for continuing to educate in the face of anti-Catholic sentiments today.
“Anti-Catholicism has rightly been called 'the last acceptable prejudice,' and is seen today in the animosity toward the Catholic Church from various sources…whose radical secularism and relativism cannot tolerate the church's proclamation of objective and universal truths and values.”
The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, wrote to Our Sunday Visitor conveying Pope Benedict's congratulations on the centennial.
“As the universal church engages in the work of the new evangelization, which reminds us of her perennial mission of leading all people to the fullness of life and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and on the threshold of the Year of Faith, the Holy Father is confident that Our Sunday Visitor will continue to respond with the same deep and zealous faith which has marked and inspired its efforts these past 100 years,” he wrote.
The symposium featured talks by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago on apologetics; attorney Helen Alvare on religious freedom and women's equality; and author Scott Hahn on the new evangelization.
Today the company employs over 300 persons and is “still committed to communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church.”
In July Our Sunday Visitor was chosen by the Vatican to be the exclusive distributor of the English-language edition of “L'Osservatore Romano,” the Vatican's official newspaper.
The centennial celebration began May 5, the anniversary of the first issue of “Our Sunday Visitor,” with an open house at the company's offices.