LOOKING BACK: Eight Really Big Stories from “Seasons of Grace”

LOOKING BACK: Eight Really Big Stories from “Seasons of Grace” December 19, 2015

What do readers want in a good Catholic blog? As the year draws to a close, I’ve taken a few minutes this week to look back at what on this blog, exactly, elicited the most interest from my readers.

Can you equate pageviews with quality? I don’t think so.

Is the most popular article also the most important? Not necessarily.

But looking back at the top stories of the last year (or the last five years) can be a great parlor game, a fun-packed trip down Memory Lane. It’s with that carefree attitude that I pulled up some stories that drew a lot of attention when they were first published. From the 3 1/2 million pageviews I’ve earned since my blog migrated to Patheos in 2012, here’s my list of if-not-great-then-at-least-interesting posts from the first half of the decade:

Heaven Is For Real: Secrets Colton Burpo Didn’t Tell You in the Book or the Movie.  Approaching 400,000 views, this post has been my all-time most popular. I’m not sure whether it was the National Enquirer-esque approach in the headline, or the fact that Colton’s experience of heaven was truly interesting, but people still find their way to that article every month. And what are the “secrets” Colton shared when I interviewed him and his parents in Los Angeles back in 2014? There were other things he saw, that he didn’t talk about at first. Oh–and he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. Go read the article to see the rest.

Obama Calls for an End to Catholic Education in Northern Ireland.  Oh, the internet exploded over this one! What the President really said in Belfast during his June 2013 visit for the G-8 Summit was:

“If towns remain divided – if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs – if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”

Criticism from Catholics and conservatives exploded on social media. Brian Burch of Catholic Vote, for example, responded saying,  

“Catholic education is not the source of ‘division’ in Northern Ireland, nor are they a source of division anywhere in the world. Catholic schools educate children without regard for race, class, sex, origin, or even religious faith. The work of Catholic education is a response to the Gospel call to serve, not divide.”

Father Corapi– Back in View? Well, who wouldn’t be interested? The television priest was so popular that his Catholic fans were in disbelief when his public ministry was ended by scandal. Alas, I spoke too soon: I believed, when someone published a new Facebook page titled Vindication for Father Corapi, that he was involved and would be returning to ministry. Time has proven that hope to be false, but a lot of folks were hoping, back in those days.

 Mama Mia! Nun Scores a Hit on Italy’s “The Voice”. Twenty-five year old Sister Cristina Scuccia won the hearts of music lovers around the world when she participated in the blind auditions for Italy’s hit show “The Voice.” Her soulful rendition of Alicia Keys’ “No One” won hearts–and won her first place in the competition. I told the story.

Bishop Tony Palmer, Pope Francis’ Friend, Dies in Motorcycle Crash. A sad story, to be sure. It was a shock to learn that the charismatic young Anglican preacher had been killed, just months after his meeting with the Catholic Pope.

Associated Press Apologizes for Its Coverage of the Irish Orphanage Story. Catholic bloggers were on this story from the beginning, questioning whether the AP’s charges and insinuations were correct.  Finally, after America magazine challenged the report, the AP apologized and admitted that its reportage had been skewed.

Archbishop Aymond’s Boycott: “We Cannot Cooperate With Evil.” I guess my readers really liked to see the Catholic bishop stand up to Planned Parenthood! When the abortion giant announced plans to construct a new clinic in New Orleans, Archbishop Aymond announced that the diocese would not do business with any individual or organization who assisted in the project.

Some Key Facts Everyone Should Know About the Archbishop’s Residence in Newark.  When a media frenzy erupted over retiring Archbishop John Myers’ home in Newark, I talked people down from the wall–explaining that the Star-Ledger’s accusations were blatantly unfair. The building is large, true; but like other Church properties, it would likely be put to multiple uses. And there’s more–read for yourself.


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