Let me tell you a story — then it’s your turn

Categories: Editorial

Stories have a way of staying with us, having an impact long after they’ve been shared

February 14, 2014, edition
By Bob Zyskowski

She was a relatively thin young woman, 20-something, dark brown hair.

Her name escapes me, but I remember her story very well.

* * *

It was shortly after the Berlin Wall came down.

Several of us who worked for Catholic publications in the United States traveled to Eastern Europe to see how we might assist Catholic journalists who were able to work “above ground” now that they were no longer oppressed by anti-religious Communism.

Our group ran into the young woman when she overheard us speaking English in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital.

An American, she’d been working in Lithuania for some time assisting some religious agencies with their development efforts.

On a Sunday get-away day before moving on to the next country, we only had time for Mass in our hotel room with one of our priest-journalists presiding. We invited the young American woman to join us.

She cried her eyes out through the entire liturgy.

“I’m sorry,” the young American said, drying her eyes. “I’ve been here for two-and-a-half years. You don’t know how much it means to hear Mass in your own language after so long.”

That’s why Catholic newspapers exists: To tell the stories of God alive in our world today.

That’s why Catholic journalists do what we do.

It’s the stories

Beth Dotson Brown, writing in the monthly newsletter of the Catholic Press Association, put it this way:

“I studied journalism because I wanted to tell stories that make a difference, stories that could illuminate the dark spots in our world.”

Bill Huebsch, a lay theologian who belongs to St. Mary Parish in Mora, includes sharing stories as one of the steps on a path that can bring members of a parish to what he calls “a culture of holiness.”

As people feel comfortable telling others about the holiness they feel and see, about the times they’ve been touched by an event or times they’ve felt God in their lives, “home lives are imbued with hospitality, forgiveness and love,” Huebsch writes, and a new orientation of self-giving love seeps into parish life and reaches out in action to the wider community.

The Visitor’s role

The staff of The Visitor works religiously — pun intended! — to bring readers those stories.

Please consider this your invitation to be our source for stories of people you know who live Gospel-based lives.

We’d like to hear more about parishes and groups where the culture of holiness has led to actions that aid the vulnerable and the poor, that have encouraged — even challenged — our society to remember the parable of the Good Samaritan and who Jesus taught was our neighbor.

In an attempt at full disclosure, though, one thing that needs to be acknowledged here is that, along with the privilege of telling others the faith stories of people, we journalists benefit from the stories, too.

That’s what Dotson Brown admits in the second part of her quote: “Little did I know when I began my career in the Catholic press that the person those stories might most influence would be me.”

And that’s what happened to me as I wrote — 24 years ago now — about the young woman in Lithuania.

Mass meant so much more to me after that story.

My faith took on a renewed importance in my life.

That same thing happens with just about every story I cover and every story we bring to you in The Visitor.

So please, pass along your stories, if only to help one journalist make his way back to his creator.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “A Culture of Holiness for the Parish” by Bill Huebsch was published by Acta Publications. Check local book stores andwww.thepastoralcenter.com.