The Archdiocese of Atlanta launched a new magazine exclusively for teens. THE MARK, introduced with a Fall 2016 issue and published twice per year, has a circulation of 8,000 and is published in English with a flip-over version in Spanish. It is distributed via youth ministry directors to 9th and 10th graders enrolled in confirmation preparation programs at parishes across North Georgia. Content Evangelist reached out to Katherine Angulo, Associate Director of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, to learn more about connecting with teens through a print publication.
CE: What prompted the Archdiocese of Atlanta to create a magazine just for teens?
KA: I have noticed that there are few places where teens can connect their interest with their faith. THE MARK Magazine gives us the opportunity to send a real message to teens through the form of media that is more than fleeting text or post.
This is also a great way to create a space for Archbishop Gregory and Bishop Zarama to have direct communication with the young church.
CE: Why do you think a magazine works with teenagers? Aren’t they all into the digital world?
KA: Teens are definitively emerged into the digital world, I will even go as far as to say, they are overwhelm with media. For that reason when each receives a magazine created just for them during their process of confirmation they feel that it is more special.
Even today it is important to highlight the milestones in our lives with the written word. For example: a college acceptance letter, a birthday card, a written love letter, makes more of an impact today than it did in the past because it involves an intentional effort from the creator of the message.
CE: What kind of content are you creating for teens? What kinds of themes resonate with them?
KA: I often hear teens saying, “I don’t know if I want to be Catholic because I will not be able to do the things that I like to do.” Mike Patin, a friend and Catholic speaker from Louisiana, says, “God is not asking you to stop being you, he is asking you to include him in your everyday life.” Our goal with THE MARK is to help teens invite God to be part of their everyday life.
The true success of this project is that the teens share stories that are real; the topics are relatable to their world. The photography is professionally done to help narrate who they are. The graphic designs reflect their youthful reality. All these efforts because we take seriously our youth and the important role they have as they grow in our Catholic faith.
CE: How does The Mark fit into the overall outreach to teens in the Archdiocese?
KA: During the recent World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis offered a special invitation to the young church: “Dear Young People, we didn’t come to this world to vegetate… No, we came to leave a Mark.”
Our hope is that THE MARK will help teens start meaningful conversations with their friends, their siblings, parents, anyone in their life. This is the best tool of new evangelization for our young church. To give them a space, a topic, a vocabulary, to share their faith journey, not only with other teens, but with the whole Church.
CE: You publish part of the content in Spanish. Why is that important for teens?
KA: 60 % of Hispanics in the United States are under the age of 19. This is a new reality we are embracing. Yes, most of them are fluent in English but our intention with the Spanish stories is to be able to reflect their realities that in many cases are very different from the other teens. Our Hispanic youth also need a space to share their struggles in their journey of faith as immigrants. And their stories are so powerful that we translate them to provide an opportunity to the English speaking community to see their reality.
We know THE MARK is being passed at homes from teens to parents to grandparents. Although teens are bilingual many of their family members are not and by providing content in Spanish we wanted to make sure they could learn from these beautiful stories, to open up and start a family conversations of faith.
CE: Do you incorporate the magazine content into social platforms, as well? Are teens interacting more with the ministry because of it?
KA: We do, we offer the link to all teens in our diocese in different social platforms. Although for us the biggest success is when teens are passing their magazine from one to the other, the meaningful conversations that are happening at homes, the interactions of teens and core team members around our parishes. In a sense their “face to face” interaction with their communities.