Ann-Marie Welsh is the editor of FAITH Magazine in the Diocese of Erie, one of FAITH Catholic's first diocesan publications. She reflects on ten years as a content evangelist.
CE: What has been different about viewing yourself as a content evangelist rather than a journalist? What kind of effect do you think it’s had on the magazine?
AMW: From day one of FAITH, our bishop charged us with creating the publication as an inspirational and formational piece, as opposed to an informational one. (We also have great ways to get news to our readers quickly, through a small, bi-weekly newspaper and social media, including our website.) One of the things I love most about my job is that I am sharing stories of people who have grown in wisdom and love through experience. I remember in the early days of FAITH, listening to Patrick O’Brien talking about how these magazines were designed to teach the way the Gospels did – through stories. That really struck me; the stories we share delve into the depth of our humanity and our relationship with God.
CE: What feedback do you get from readers of the magazine?
AMW: It is so moving. People are always so grateful to us for telling their stories – even though it is their generosity that makes it possible! Our diocese is 10,000 square miles, and so a sense of community can be hard to create. But when you can shine a spotlight on wonderful stories of faith, you build up the community. After 10 years of doing this, people still take the time to get in touch and let us know how important it was to them to read a particular story. I would say there is a lot of good dialogue about what we’re offering. It motivates me to dig up stories and explore themes that will engage people.
CE: How do you benefit from editorial planning even when you produce your own content?
AMW: Writing is a very solitary profession. I look forward to my consultation meetings with FAITH Catholic’s editors – it is always good to stop and take the long view of your project. It is also important to compare notes; I am inspired when I hear how others are approaching similar topics. What do you value about the relationship? Having FAITH Catholic as a “back room” is a tremendous resource, and it is a great help to us that the team comes to visit each year. I always feel they have a complete sense of what is happening in my diocese and in other dioceses. They help keep me in touch with the Catholic world. My bishop and our cabinet have confidence in what we’re doing in part because they have confidence in what is happening in Lansing. I count on the FAITH team to help us stay connected and grow in our role as content evangelizers.