Landry reflects on new position, long-time work with archdiocese

BRAINTREE -- It was announced Aug. 29 that Scot Landry will be leaving his position as Cabinet Secretary for Catholic Media of the Archdiocese of Boston to become head of the organization Catholic Voices USA.

Following is an edited version of Landry's written responses to questions about his decision to accept his new position as well as his reflections on his seven years of service at the archdiocese's Central Ministries.

You are leaving your current duties to lead the national apostolate, Catholic Voices USA. What attracted you to that new role?

Catholic Voices USA was founded in 2012 and I've been a strong supporter since I first heard mention of it from my brother, Father Roger Landry, who was asked to serve as its national chaplain. I attended their first training in Washington D.C. and then worked with Catholic Voices USA to offer a training weekend to Boston-area Catholics this past April.

I think Catholic Voices meets a huge need in the Church for lay people to become articulate, well-catechized and media-ready communicators, particularly on hot-button issues. Often, when non-Catholic media organizations seek out representative or average Catholics to comment on an issue, they often find media-trained individuals who sometimes have an agenda that isn't always faithful to Church teaching. That leads people astray. That problem has always bothered me and I have always felt the desire to do something about it.

The good news is that we have many well-catechized lay Catholics who love the Church and have the authority of direct lived experience. They simply need some media training to be comfortable and effective sharing, explaining and defending the Catholic faith particularly in the media. Training these individuals is the main purpose of Catholic Voices.

Was it a difficult decision to leave full-time service at the archdiocese's central ministries?

Certainly. It has been a joyful privilege to serve the Church in the Archdiocese and to assist Cardinal Seán as the Secretary for Institutional Advancement and then the first Secretary for Catholic Media. My colleagues here at the Pastoral Center are inspirational to me and I'm honored to call them my friends and to pray alongside them at Mass. That is the toughest part about this decision -- knowing that I won't be in the company on a daily basis with the people I have been working with over the past seven years at the Pastoral Center as well as the many priests, parish staff leaders, and agency directors with whom I have had to work closely.

I'm glad that I will have the opportunity to see people occasionally as I continue as a part-time consultant to Cardinal Seán, write columns for the Pilot and continue to serve as one of the hosts of The Good Catholic Life whenever my schedule allows it.

What have been the personal highlights of your seven years here in Central Ministries?

It will probably sound corny, but the main highlights are all the friendships I've been blessed to build with thousands of people who are working for the Church as priests, religious, and lay staff members here in Braintree, in our parishes, schools and ministries and who serve on our boards and other important committees. The Catholic Church is a family and it has been great to work together with so many individuals to advance our family's mission to transform the world, one soul at a time, and to build a civilization of love.

Secondly, it's been a true honor to assist Cardinal Seán directly on so many initiatives close to his heart. He has a heart for evangelization and to reach all people who are lost, forgotten and on the fringes of society. He is very much like Pope Francis in that regard as they both model their leadership on the great St. Francis.

Work highlights as the Secretary for Institutional Advancement are that together with our great team, our pastors advisory committee, our lay committees and with parish staff leaders, we were able to increase the Catholic Appeal proceeds each year and collectively achieve our annual goals. We were also able to meet Cardinal Seán's objective to help parishes increase their own fundraising and to help parishioners support the Church through new solutions like online giving. It was an honor to help form the Improved Financial Relationship Committee and see the Improved Financial Relationship Model implemented and observe how it is providing more financial resources for the majority of the parishes enrolled in it. The best part of my time in development, however, was clearly being able to have a front-row seat to the tremendous generosity of so many Catholics who love the Church. Generosity and selflessness in action are so very inspirational.

In terms of Catholic Media, Cardinal Seán asked me in 2010 to help continue the positive trajectories of The Pilot and CatholicTV, add a bulletin company to improve weekly parish communications, launch a Catholic radio presence in the Archdiocese of Boston, and to enhance both archdiocesan and parish websites and social media. I'm happy to report that all of these objectives were accomplished and that the great team in Catholic Media will ensure they continue.

Finally, people who know me well are aware that I love to work on initiatives and new projects. We've had so many ones in the archdiocese over my seven years -- everything from organizing thousands to go to Yankee Stadium for the Mass with Pope Benedict, to working on the team that moved the archdiocese from Brighton to Braintree, to the IFRM, to the victory on Question 2 last year, to the launch of Catholics Come Home and The Light Is On For You, to the introduction of Catholic radio 1060AM and The Good Catholic Life program, to the new ministries of parish bulletins and Church printing. Cardinal Seán has been a bold leader so we've had plenty of great projects on which to work!

Are there any things you hoped to do that you haven't, or any regrets?

Yes. I had hoped by now that we would have a second major Catholic radio station in the Boston area, one that would focus on Spanish-language and Portuguese-language programming. We need one desperately to connect many recent immigrants to the life of the Church and to provide great catechesis. I hope we as a Catholic community can achieve this goal in the near future.

Another regret is that we needed to suspend the Boston Catholic Men's and Women's Conferences after the 2010 conferences and we haven't been able to bring them back yet. It was a struggle to balance my day job in central ministries with the apostolate of Boston Catholic Conferences. I'm hoping that in 2014 we are able to bring back the conferences. We need apostolates, such as Boston Catholic Conferences -- as well as Catholic Voices -- to complement the work of our central ministries and our parishes to have a fully vibrant local Church.

What will you be doing in your part-time role as a consultant to Cardinal Seán?

I think the majority of the projects will involve evangelization in some way. Cardinal Seán has a heart for evangelization and many great ideas for new approaches to reach those who are currently not connected with the Church or whose connection could be deepened.

He's also requested my help over the past seven years with research on issues or questions, so I think there will likely also be research projects. He may also want my help in some way as we try to reach the goal of a radio station for Spanish-speakers and Portuguese-speakers. We'll see.

You played a role in launching The Good Catholic Life radio program. Do you anticipate having any future role with it?

First of all, it was Cardinal Seán's idea originally to work with WQOM to launch this daily local program that has become an important part of the archdiocese's evangelization and communication platforms. Being one of the cohosts has been a huge blessing to me. Beyond getting to build friendships with our guests and all those involved with the program, it has helped me learn so much more about our faith as I prepare for each show.

I've let Cardinal Seán know that I'm happy to continue as a volunteer cohost of the show whenever I am available and not traveling in my new role at Catholic Voices. For those times when I'm not available, one of our fantastic cohosts or our great producer Dom Bettinelli will step into the moderator's role. We have a deep bench of people already involved in the program and several others who have expressed interest in helping out.

Any other reflections?

I look forward to connecting regularly with Pilot readers through my columns and radio listeners through The Good Catholic Life.