Landry speaks on new Catholic Media secretariat

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has announced the formation of a new cabinet secretariat for Catholic Media, which will oversee all the archdiocese’s broadcast, print and Internet presences. Scot Landry, currently the secretary for Institutional Advancement, has been asked to serve as secretary for Catholic Media. Following are email responses to questions submitted to Landry regarding the new secretariat and his role.

Why is Cardinal O’Malley forming this new group?

Cardinal Seán and Pope Benedict XVI recognize that the way people receive information and communicate with others has changed profoundly. This is particularly true when we think about reaching young people. The Holy Father has written about the need for our Church to utilize new media to share the Good News and to help people deepen their relationship with Christ.

Cardinal Seán seeks to make evangelization, particularly through new media, a priority. Throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, there are so many media efforts underway to share our great faith. My recent Pilot column (“The Promise and Power of Catholic New Media,” 5/14/2010) detailed many of these initiatives. It is Cardinal Seán’s belief that placing these entities together will lead to greater innovation, collaboration, effectiveness, efficiency and urgency.

Everyone that has been consulted and involved in bringing this idea to fruition is confident that this new initiative will allow us to reach more people with the Good News, inform and form Catholics more profoundly, and help them deepen their relationship with Christ.

Why do you think Cardinal Seán asked you to lead this new group?

I think Cardinal Seán sees the passion I have for utilizing media to share our faith. We have discussed many times my hope that we could devote more resources to these ministries.

He also recognizes how much I admire the great work being done at CatholicTV, The Pilot, the Catholic Directory, the website and various other communication initiatives.

And I believe Cardinal Seán respects that I lead initiatives in a consultative process that involves and includes our priests, parish staff, lay leaders, and ministry directors. For this media group to realize its potential, we will need help from all these groups and Church leaders.

What are the plans for the development office?

In the short term, members of the Catholic Foundation team responsible for the Catholic Appeal will continue in their duties until the 2010 appeal campaign ends in January. So far, more than $9 million has been contributed by 38,000 families in the first 3 months of the campaign. We still have a way to go toward our goals.

On a parallel path, the vicar general, chancellor and members of the Catholic Foundation Board will be leading a search for the next secretary for development. Some in my staff at the Catholic Foundation will be moving with me to the new media group but the transition will take a few months, as they will be assisting during the on-boarding process of the new development team members.

How do you feel about leaving the ministry of development?

I love working in development for the Church, so there is a sense of sadness in leaving this work. It is an honor to represent all the critical ministries funded by the Catholic Appeal. It’s been a joy to partner with many pastors and lay leaders as well as our team at the Catholic Foundation to improve the way we conduct our fundraising campaigns. It is inspiring to witness first-hand the love and generosity of so many to the Church.

I’m someone that likes to finish what I start. We are just beginning the implementation of the recommendations from the Improved Financial Relationship Committee, which is a critical initiative. Also, we’ve devoted a lot of energy to helping parishes increase their offertories and grand annuals those initiatives are now starting to gain momentum.

So, in many ways, the timing of this transition isn’t ideal. Cardinal Seán recognizes that. When we first discussed the idea of this new Secretariat for Catholic Media, I asked Cardinal Seán to let me continue to lead the Development Office while I devote more time launching the media initiative. However, Cardinal Seán thought that the need for this new media initiative was urgent and required a full-time leader. So despite our shared recognition that the timing wasn’t ideal for development, we decided to move forward with the Catholic Media group with full energy and seek a new leader for the development office.

The sadness I experience in leaving development is likely similar to what a pastor feels when he receives a new assignment. He loves so many aspects of his current parish, feels that there is unfinished work, and knows that he will miss so many of his parishioners and friends. But he also looks forward in anticipation to the new assignment and prays that God will work through him to lead those he will now serve closer to Christ. Likewise, I am excited by the many possibilities to strengthen the Church in this new media group.

What have you learned in your four years in development that will help you in the new media group?

Many things, thanks be to God.

To reach all the objectives that Cardinal Seán has for this media group, we will need to fundraise to finance various new initiatives, so that is a clear one. All the relationships we’ve built with pastors and parish staff members throughout the archdiocese will continue to help us, we hope, as we determine the best ways to support parish communications and evangelization efforts. And we have good experience with launching new initiatives in the Church through a broad-based consultation and communication process. We also hope to transform our popular Fall Fundraising Forum training programs, which helped parishes enhance their fundraising efforts, to Parish Media Forums where we help parishes enhance all their forms of communication with parishioners.

Thankfully, we start this initiative knowing that we have a tremendous team of people already in place at CatholicTV, The Pilot, the Boston Catholic Directory and the Website Group. The success of this initiative will depend on their continued excellence and innovation. Those of us from The Catholic Foundation now joining them full-time in the ministry of Catholic Media, look forward to learning from them and together moving forward in a way that leads more and more people to a deeper, joy-filled relationship with Christ.

Do you have any plans to expand the reach of this new communications group?

We hope to add other media initiatives over the upcoming years. One of our top priorities will be to determine ways we can help parishes more effectively leverage new media to communicate with and connect with their parishioners. If there is interest, this group will help parishes enhance their website, email communication, Facebook presence, and bulletin communication. We also want to look at areas where we can serve Catholics in various languages, through print, radio, television and new media.