Media relations serves as ‘voice’ of Archdiocese to the world
October 11, 2016
HOUSTON — The Vatican announced on Sept. 26 that the theme for World Communications Day 2017 is, “‘Fear not, for I am with you.’ Communicating hope and trust in our time.”
The Secretariat for Communications of the Archdiocese is responsible for communicating all official news and information about the local Church. The Secretariat serves as the official “voice” of the Archdiocese on issues related to the Catholic Church and on Archdiocesan events, programs and services. The Secretariat also facilitates official Chancery communication with Archdiocesan parishes, schools, offices and departments. It is supported through the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF).
The office offers a variety of resources to credentialed members of the print and broadcast news media regarding the events, people and parishes that make up the Archdiocese. The media relations team is the point of contact for all media inquiries and prepares and distributes statements and other resources to the press.
“The role of the news media is important in providing coverage of Archdiocesan events and in highlighting the many aspects of faith on display in the local Church,” Office of Communications Director Jonah Dycus said. “These stories or profiles are not only an opportunity for evangelization but can serve as a call to action from the faithful when there is help needed in the community.”
Media inquiries to Archdiocesan parishes or Catholic schools, clergy or religious, ministries and administrative departments are referred immediately to the media relations team for coordination.
Catherine Rogan, Media Relations Manager for the Archdiocese, said there is no typical day in regards to feature story or breaking news requests — particularly in reference to announcements from the Vatican. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s unexpected resignation in 2013 was a unique — and unprecedented — challenge.
“That day, and for the following two months, I was constantly fielding media calls and requests from reporters around the world,” Rogan said.
Most media outreach of Archdiocesan-wide significance is initiated through the Secretariat for Communications branch. This includes issuing press releases and media advisories about Archdiocesan ministries, events and points of view as well as contacting individual editors and reporters for coverage opportunities.
“I often pitch stories about Archdiocesan celebrations,” Rogan said. “For example, in September, the Archdiocese honored a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities with a Mass and Prayer Service. Both services prayed for an end to the violence and racial tension we’ve seen in communities across the United States. A couple of weeks later, we celebrated and honored the men and women of law enforcement at the Archdiocesan Blue Mass.”
Rogan said stories certainly are not only centered on event-driven pitches.
“I recently pitched a story about a group of pilgrims who were traveling to Rome for the Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa,” Rogan said. “Other pitches have included the launch of a Catholic Anti-Human Trafficking movement in Houston. One of my favorite pitches was one about three religious sisters whose vocations led them to unique ministries serving the local community.”
The Communications Office also coordinated tours with local news stations of the Catholic schools named after St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII when the two popes were both canonized in 2014, and set up interviews with local pilgrims who were traveling to Philadelphia, New York and Washington D.C. during the Papal visit to the United States for the World Meeting of Families in 2015.