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Jill Esfeld holds up a copy of The Leaven in this photo from 2014.

by Jill Ragar Esfeld

The history of the Catholic press in the United States began in the early 1800s with immigrants who had a deep desire to share their faith and their stories.

In 1822, Bishop John England, an experienced editor who emigrated from Ireland, started the first Catholic diocesan newspaper here, the Catholic Miscellany, in Charleston, South Carolina,

The Second Vatican Council, recognizing the importance of these diocesan papers throughout the world, established February as Catholic Press Month.

And so, this month seems like the ideal time to share with you what I believe to be the wonderful and very important purpose of our own archdiocesan newspaper.

Today, for example, I am working on an article that will run in The Leaven newspaper soon. It’s the amazing story of a local woman named Liliane who survived a harrowing experience of torture in the Congo, and immigrated to America to start an inspiring new life.

Liliane’s story of struggle and survival is so remarkable that it’s been told before in other news outlets.

So why are we telling it again in The Leaven?

The answer to that question is the key to understanding the significance of the Catholic Press.

Liliane’s story has never been written the way I’m writing it — from the perspective of her faith.

None of the other news media has explained the role the Catholic Church played in her journey from certain death to safety.

And no other journalist has talked about the part her deep faith played, and continues to play, in her life.

That story would never be told if not for The Leaven.

Similarly, a few years ago, I wrote an article about two talented swimmers — twins on the road to the Olympics. Again, a story interesting enough that it was covered by other news media.

But when the article appeared in our archdiocesan newspaper, the young men’s parents wrote me to say The Leaven article is the one they will save and treasure, because it told the truth from the perspective of their faith.

The staff at The Leaven works tirelessly to deliver authentic, faith-based news to our community.

In my role as a Catholic writer, my own faith is constantly strengthened by the people I meet through the stories and events I cover.

I am continually astounded at the incredible work done by ordinary people through their ability to channel the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ.

And I am privileged to bring those stories to my Catholic community.

In support of the Catholic press, I hope all Catholics in our archdiocese will show their appreciation for our award-winning publication by doing three simple things:

  • Help your parish by paying the cost of your Leaven subscription.
  • Read The Leaven, and absorb the truth of Christ’s presence in our world and the power of the Holy Sprit in each story told.
  • Share this good news by passing The Leaven on to someone else who can benefit from its wonderful message — that Christ is among us, serving, being served and eager to show us the power of his love.

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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