February 1, 2014
Stop. Think about it. What really is “Dakota Catholic Action?”
As we embarked on the journey of revamping the DCA, considering question after question about the fate of our beloved newspaper, one thing was certain: the DCA must always be the DCA.
I took a trip into the archives (waaay back to the beginning) to discover the roots of the DCA. I knew that we wanted our paper to look different, yet stay focused on its original mission.
The first issue of the Dakota Catholic Action was published May 1, 1941. It is remarkable how the 73-year-old words written in that first issue still resonate powerfully today:
“With the years this paper will grow in size and in importance. … It is the hope of your bishop that this paper from its very beginning will find its way into every home in the diocese,” wrote Bishop Vincent J. Ryan, the second bishop of Bismarck.
“To carry out his work effectively a bishop needs a paper,” he continued. “It is needed to unify the activities of a diocese. It is needed for Catholic Action.”
Pope Pius X (who served from 1903-1914) was the first to coin the term “Catholic Action,” and Pope Pius XI (who served from 1922-1939) carried on the idea saying, “Catholic Action we deem to be as indispensable at the present time as the priestly ministry itself.” At the time that the first issue of the DCA was released, our diocese was involved in a global Church initiative to promote greater Catholic Action among lay people in a world that, in the midst of WWII, needed some positive energy.
“Catholic Action implies an effort to change the environment in which we live and to make it a Christian environment,” wrote Bishop Ryan in his DCA letter to the laity dated Feb. 1946. “Prayer and reparation are the soul of Catholic Action. Without them, we shall fail.”
Early DCA writings urged people to “bring religion into everyday life” and to “work together for God’s Church” because “these are the days when we should stand together and work as one.”
Fast-forward seven decades and here we are, the year is 2014, and we also just concluded a global Church initiative (the Year of Faith) encouraging us to rediscover the joy of our faith. Bishop Ryan hoped that those who read the DCA would be inspired, energized, and feel a sense of unity and joy in what is happening in the Catholic Diocese of Bismarck. His words were written with a clear sense of urgency. “The world at large rejects Christ and His teachings,” he wrote in the mid-1940s. “This explains the misery of our age. This is why the future looks so dark.”
The future may still appear daunting in 2014, but, as I watched history unfold in thousands of issues of the DCA, I was inspired. Christ never abandons us and He has poured dump trucks of blessings on western N.D. Yet we still need true Catholic action.
Today, Bishop David Kagan and I, as current publisher and editor of the DCA, strive to make this a document that will encourage you towards Catholic action—actually transforming our lives, families and society. Please let us know about your Catholic action, so that it may be recorded and shared, inspiring people today…and 70 years from now.