Background on Publications in the Diocese
of Saint Augustine
The idea of publishing a Catholic magazine dates
back to 1907 when Bishop William J. Kenny of the Diocese of Saint
Augustine approved a plan submitted by Rev. James Veal, a priest
serving in Mandarin, Fla.
Rev. and Dear Sir –
The proposal to publish a monthly magazine to be known as the Florida
Catholic is highly commendable, and I cordially approve of the plan
submitted. If properly carried out the magazine will be most interesting
and instructive. Publishing items of interest from each parish will
bring our people more together and will insure an extensive circulation.
The Question Box will be an interesting feature, and this, with
the monthly editorials and original articles on timely topics of
Catholic interest, will be the means of accomplishing untold good.
It only remains for the Reverend Clergy to perseveringly adhere
to the plan they have proposed to make the Florida Catholic not
only a welcome visitor, but a necessity in every Catholic household.
– William J. Kenny, Bishop of St. Augustine
On Dec. 1, 1939, The Florida Catholic
newspaper began publishing on a regular basis with its editorial
offices located in Miami. At the time, the paper was published for
the Diocese of Saint Augustine, which encompassed the entire state
of Florida east of the Apalachicola River (panhandle).
In 1942, The Florida Catholic
newspaper offices were moved to St. Augustine. They remained there
until 1965 when the offices were moved to Orlando under the direction
of Father David Page.
In 1958, the Archdiocese of Miami was created followed by the Dioceses
of St. Petersburg and Orlando, respectively, in 1968. Two years
later in 1970, Bishop Paul Tanner of the Diocese of Saint Augustine,
pulled out of The Florida Catholic
newspaper family and launched Community, a unique concept of publishing
the news and views of the Catholic Church in the Sunday editions
of four secular newspapers in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Pensacola
and Tallahassee. The page was designed to look like the editorial
sections of the newspaper.
The pioneer editor of Community
was the late Msgr. Joseph James. His goals for the newspaper were:
• To be a means of explaining the “what” and the
“why” of Catholic beliefs and religious practice;
• To provide a report on the important Catholic and general
religious news of the world, the nation and the local scene;
• To make editorial comment on issues and values current in
• To be a sign of the Catholic Church’s interest in
the spiritual and material welfare of the entire community.
Twenty years later, official surveys of Community showed more than
400,000 persons received the page regularly making it the most widely
circulated diocesan publication in the United States. “Community
is one of the best examples of evangelization in the United States,”
said Msgr. James in 1990. “It remains unique in Catholic journalism.”
In December 1985, Bishops Thomas Grady of Orlando, John Favalora
of St. Petersburg, Keith Symons of Pensacola-Tallahassee, John Nevins
of Venice and Thomas Daily of Palm Beach, formed a partnership to
provide a statewide newspaper in five of the seven Florida dioceses.
In 1990, the Archdiocese of Miami joined The
Florida Catholic newspaper family.
In January 1992, Community
for the Diocese of Saint Augustine reduced its size from a full
page to a half page in the Sunday editions of the Florida
Times-Union and the
Gainesville Sun. The cost of purchasing
a page of advertising had steadily increased by about 9 percent
each year. At the time, the diocese faced the dual problem of remaining
financially viable in the face of rising production and advertising
costs and providing more in-depth coverage on matters of the faith
for our practicing Catholics.
The St. Augustine Catholic
magazine was launched by Bishop John J. Snyder with its first edition
in September 1991. The magazine was published five times a year
and distributed through our parishes every other month. In most
parishes, the magazine was inserted in parish bulletins and handed
to parishioners after Mass.
On March 23, 1997, the last issue of Community
was published in the Florida
Times-Union and Gainesville
Sun newspapers. The frequency of the St.
Augustine Catholic magazine was increased
to six issues a year and 16 pages were added going from 20 to 36
pages an issue. At the same time, Bishop Snyder launched a “live”
talk radio program that aired simultaneously in Jacksonville and
Gainesville on stations that covered the listening markets of the
diocese. The radio program, Common
Ground, served as evangelization outreach
to the mainstream of the community and was hosted by Kathleen Bagg-Morgan,
director of Communications until 1999.
In February 2006, Bishop Victor Galeone took a bold financial step
and increased the frequency of the St.
Augustine Catholic from six issues to
10 issues a year and began mailing the publication to every registered
Catholic household – about 56,000 homes in the 17-county area
of the diocese.
Catholic journalists throughout the United States are amazed that
we have succeeded with such an attractive and readable tool. In
fact, in 2000 the Diocese of Lansing in Michigan emulated our evangelization
efforts with their own version of a popular monthly magazine called
The Diocese of Saint Augustine now partners with the Faith Catholic
family that includes sister publications in the dioceses of Erie,
Grand Rapids, Joliet, Laredo, Manchester, Pensacola-Tallahassee,
Portland, Raleigh, Saginaw and Tulsa. Faith Catholic also produces
magazines for Catholic TV in Boston, the Knights of Peter Claver,
Mundelein Seminary in Chicago and the Society of the Little Flower.
The 16 titles have a combined circulation of 932,000.
Our challenge today is to continue providing this award-winning
publication to every Catholic household in the Diocese of Saint
Augustine – following our mandate to “teach all Nations”
by spreading the “Good News” of our Lord, Jesus Christ.