NewsEventsCMA members reflect on the value of belonging to a community of...

CMA members reflect on the value of belonging to a community of media professionals

Interview with three members from the Catholic Media Association, the largest SIGNIS member in North America.

On May 8, people from SIGNIS and from all around the world will gather for a Celebration of Voices, the first virtual fundraising event supporting our association. For the occasion, we spoke to three Catholic communicators from the Catholic Media Association, the largest SIGNIS member in North America.

In this interview, Maria Wiering from The Catholic Spirit, Matthew Schiller from Catholic New York and Michael La Civita of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association tell us more about the value of being part of a network and a community of Catholic media professionals.

Could you tell us some of the ways that your publication has benefited from membership in the Catholic Media Association?

Maria Wiering: When Covid hit, The Catholic Spirit was really grateful for our established relationship with other Catholic publications through the Catholic Media Association. As we looked at how we might handle a shutdown, we drew from the publications that we heard present on workflow improvement at the Catholic Media conference in 2019. So, when preparing for Covid shutdown here, we were already thinking of moving toward a shared system like Slack or Microsoft Teams to improve the way we worked and our internal communication. And if it weren’t for our colleague publications’ strong endorsement of those systems at the conference, we would have been clueless as to where to start.

When we left the office in March 2020 to be working from home, we were better equipped than we would have otherwise been to pivot to working together while apart. Then, in summer 2020, the Catholic Media Association created some web-based cohorts to work with us to improve our workflow even further. We jumped at that opportunity, and that helped us immensely. It also gave us a chance to better collaborate with other Catholic publications at that point who were along that same journey with us.

Because of the Catholic Media Association, we felt like we already had great support to reach out to and be in contact with other communications professionals for solidarity and troubleshooting during that time. We felt like we were standing together as we strove to tell the story of the Church well as it was responding to the pandemic, while we were also trying to respond to it in our own lives.

Being a member of the Catholic Media Association for many years, how have you benefited from membership on a personal and professional level?

Matthew Schiller: My experience with the Catholic Media Association has always reflected a strong community spirit. This is something I learned from my youngest years when I was mentored by people in the Catholic Media Association. I developed friendships that have grown, and eventually, I had the opportunity to mentor others. And that’s really what helps build a future, that we always have that stream of new talent, of new interests coming in, new ideas and new skills. I know Catholic New York has really benefited from that and has also been able to sort of populate people who have moved on to other publications, other platforms. It’s great to see those people carrying what they have learned forward.

The other thing that I really like about the association is that there is a very free exchange of ideas. It is not competitive, and it is what bonds us and raises our level of excellence. We are better because we learn from each other. And there is also a long-standing commitment in the association to evangelization by bringing the messages and the news of our Church to the local faith community and to the world.

I find everything I have taken away from the association to be really beneficial, and I hope I have contributed as much as I possibly could.

What do you see as the benefit of having an association like SIGNIS that has members like the Catholic Media Association and others worldwide in this work together for the Church?

Michael La Civita: It is important to belong to something that is bigger than yourself. We, as Catholics, belong to a Catholic church, which means universal. And SIGNIS, and the role that the Catholic Media Association plays as a member, is a much broader organization that embraces Catholics all over the world. 

So, when we get together for virtual meetings or at the SIGNIS World Congress, such as a few years ago in Quebec City, when we are all together at one time, you get to see the Church at her best. That is when it brings together people of all races, ethnic groups, genders, etc., all in one place. And we are praising God and are doing what we do best as Catholic communicators, and that is telling the Good News. We do it in a news format, in a magazine or through radio or television, but what we are doing is witnessing the Gospel as it is lived by individuals in the Church across the globe.  

That is something that is very important here for us at Catholic Near East Welfare, which works in some of the most difficult parts of the world, as we try to inform our readers and our donor audience about the works of the churches, to hopefully inspire them and also to provide them with an opportunity to learn more. That is the role of Catholic media in the Church of today.


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