Why no North American equivalent to The Portal?

EPMS asked the following in the comments section to a recent post where I remarked on some of the offerings in the latest edition of The Portal, the Magazine of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.   You can find a link to The Portal on the right hand side of this blog. Click on the picture of The Portal and you will be taken to the site.bv

He (I’m assuming EPMS is a he) writes:

Two thoughts: how can the OOLW, which is apparently much smaller than the OCSP and certainly has fewer resources, put out a monthly magazine when the OCSP could not even continue to maintain a quarterly? and, if The Portal is read by 25,000 people a month, as an interview in this issue states, how can the OCSP justify not having any kind of similar publication? The website is no substitute, as it is very sparse. The parish list is much improved, although the service times are mostly wrong. But essentially print and on-line publicity has been left in the hands of parishes and unofficial bloggers, and not all of the latter are well-wishers. Strange.

I suppose at some point I could write or phone the chancery in Houston to ask why or why not.

But I imagine some of it has to do with no one coming forward and volunteering to do it, or the chancery thinking they have more important things to do.

I was a little surprised at how cheeky and opinionated The Portal is given, as I understand it, it is an official organ of the OOLW.  I would imagine that some of the articles may not always make the Ordinary Keith Newton completely comfortable!

What I have seen come out of Houston tends to be more clearly public relations efforts—quite slick, with high quality photos, professional-looking with a uniform message.

That takes time and money to do.

Meanwhile . . .What can we do as a grassroots effort in the meantime?

I am hoping I can add other bloggers here to help beef up the news content here on Ordinariate communities.  I do not, however, want this blog to be a place where naysayers and those seeking to discourage or disparage some of our fragile communities  tear down efforts or make nasty claims about individual personalities.   So I recognize I am playing to some extent a public relations role, though unofficial and unsanctioned by the Houston chancery, in doing this blog.  I do want to encourage debate, discussion and the building of community among our widely flung Ordinariate communities and those who are not Catholic but are also interested in Anglican/English Catholic patrimony.

Interestingly, the UK has had a tradition of outspoken blogger priests such as Fr. Hunwicke who is now an Ordinariate priest and Fr. Ed Tomlinson, among others who are not Ordinariate but share many of the same concerns such as Fr. Tim Finigan and Fr. Ray Blake.

I write as a journalist primarily for newspapers that are owned by various Catholic dioceses in Canada.  While the bishop in the diocese has the ultimate say, the way things run on a day to day basis is that the bishop keeps an arm’s length relationship and does not vet individual issues or micromanage the running of the newspaper.   I would not be surprised if he occasionally opens a paper and finds something in it—a column, an article, that is not to his liking.  If he feels really strongly, he can call up the editor.   From what I know, that doesn’t happen very often.

I know that I, however, am aware that I am writing for papers that are supposed to be reflecting the news through a Catholic lens.  Also, you get an idea quickly, too, of what kinds of stories the editors will run, and which get ignored.

All this to say is: what kind of publication with Ordinariate news would you like to see?  How would you like to contribute to one?

I imagine if someone came forward with a proposal to Houston for a magazine or a news letter, it would be given serious consideration.

In the meantime, if you have news to share, send me some links.  If you’d like to blog and you can stay within our parameters of acceptable discourse, let me know and I will send you an invitation.  I am hoping David Murphy will resume doing what he had been doing at Ordinariate Expats here, as he provided a great service.

I would also like to set up some blog aggregation for Ordinariate sites, perhaps at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society website.

What makes The Portal lively and interesting is they have lots of contributors.   And it looks like they have freedom to be themselves, to be opinionated and to have fun.  That makes it readable and entertaining.  At the same time, it is positive and not gloomily looking around to find fault or lay blame.

The Anglicanorum Coetibus Society does have its journal Shared Treasures, but it tends to be more of an effort to publish more scholarly work on Anglican/English Catholic patrimony than to act as any kind of newsletter.

Your thoughts?



3 thoughts on “Why no North American equivalent to The Portal?

  1. The OCSP had a (volunteer) Communications Director from the beginning and putting out the Ordinariate Observer was one of his responsibilities. The new administration under Bp Lopes created a position for a professional Director of Communjcations and Strategic Planning but only one issue of the magazine has appeared since. So it is not exactly the case that “no one has come forward and volunteered” to create a newsletter. It existed, and then at some point it was decided that it was no longer a priority.
    British media tend to be more forthright and opinionated than their North American counterparts, so it is unsurprising that The Portal is less bland than a typical diocesan paper. But more importantly, the editors do not just put together whatever someone chooses to send them; they have a board and they solicit relevant and thought-provoking articles as well as doing some personal newsgathering. They mention that The Portal costs £10,000 annually to produce so I do not think that they are stinting on its production values, either. The fund-raising materials from Houston may be slick but the website has not had a major update since it was set up five years ago and it is by no means well-maintained. There is very little material available that one could direct an inquirer to. Personally I would regard the creation of a first-rate website and on-line news source as Job One of a Communications Director, not something an organization would wait for a volunteer to step forward and undertake.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Forward in Faith movement in the UK had an active monthly magazine, New Directions, and The Portal has many of the same contributors, style, production values, etc. as New Directions (which is still going strong in its own right). Furthermore, New Directions was the voice of a dissenting minority which was actively working on controversial issues within the Church of England, so the tone tended to be quite outspoken, with the usual wicked English wit. So this may account for why The Portal got up and going so quickly. But now that the OOLW has shown that it can be done, it certainly should be the case that the OCSP (or volunteers from within the OCSP) should be able to put out something equally informative and interesting.


  3. The OOLW had a professional Communications Director from its beginning, of whose competence David Murphy spoke very warmly https://ordinariateexpats.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/catherine-utley-is-no-longer-communications-officer-of-the-personal-ordinariate-of-our-lady-of-walsingham/ She put out a regular newsletter, which is still produced more or less monthly (latest issue here http://ymlp.com/zjSB5ghttp so while The Portal may trace its lineage to New Directions it has not been the only vehicule for OOLW news. The OCSP’s approach has been different in several respects, and at the moment the responsibilities of the Director of Communications seem to be more in line with a Director of Advancement, although anyone in that field would I think point out that building a sense of connection was fundamental to successful fund-raising, and this takes more than pamphlets and posters. Another difference, besides the national one, that may account for the tone of The Portal is that Anglicans are used to airing their differences publically, even in official media. The Catholic approach is much more to assure everyone that things just couldn’t be better. In any event, as I said before, the official website should be the first place one sends someone who wants to get to know more about an organization. This is not currently an option where the OCSP is concerned.


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