By Dave Jolivet
FALL RIVER, Mass. — On Apr. 11, 1957, Fall River Bishop James L. Connolly wrote a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Fall River on page one of the very first edition of The Anchor.
In his welcoming statement he wrote, “Here’s a word of cordial welcome to our new diocesan paper. Coming to us each week with pictures, news and views it is bound to bring us closer together and improve our Spiritual and social customs. I am sure The Anchor will find an honored place, like the crucifix, in every home throughout the diocese.
“Permit me, here and now, to thank the staff, the supporters and all who subscribe to our new, important venture. May God bless my personal representative, this diocesan paper, as it comes to make a port of call each week in your home. May it help hearten us all in our journey through life. Up Anchor, and away!”
In its more than one-half century of service to the faithful of the Diocese of Fall River, The Anchor has graced mail receptacles of countless diocesan faithful each week, save one — the week of the Blizzard of ’78, the February 10 edition.
The story on this page about the implementation of a new diocesan assessment as of Jan. 1, 2016, explains that move is necessary to “fund the operations of the diocese’s central administration which supports all diocesan parishes and institutions.” In order to help diocesan parishes to be able to pay the assessment, The Anchor will no longer be partially funded by parishes as of the first of the year.
This is a significant change for The Anchor since more than 60 percent of its revenue came from parish assistance. As a result, The Anchor is diligently working on developing means to sustain itself thus enabling it to continue bringing local and international Church news to the faithful of the Diocese of Fall River.
It is no secret that a draining economy is affecting many areas, secular and non-secular alike. The Anchor, like many diocesan parishes, schools, and ministries, is feeling the effects of this economy, and is appealing to those who find value in the publication’s fine columnists, reporters, photographers, and news sources, to help us keep the paper arriving in mailboxes from the Attleboros, Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford, to Cape Cod and the Islands, and locales in between. The Anchor staff, ranging in longevity from 20 to seven years, is also at risk of falling prey to the fragile economy.
In one cost-saving measure, as of the Jan. 8, 2016 edition, The Anchor will become a bi-weekly publication, arriving in subscribers’ homes every other week. In addition, the paper has had to release two of its fine correspondents.
While the format of the “new” paper is still being developed, The Anchor will continue to key on diocesan news, as well as retaining the services of its outstanding columnists.
In order to continue producing one of the most local Catholic newspapers in the country, The Anchor must rely on those whom it serves — the many faithful subscribers, who, year-after-year, have been a vital cog in keeping The Anchor machine running.
Included in next week’s Anchor (November 20), will be an envelope insert for readers to renew an active subscription, subscribe anew, or to make a tax-deductible contribution to help the paper meet its production costs. These renewals, new subscriptions and donations will come directly to The Anchor and not through the parishes.
With income only from subscribers and advertising, it’s a daunting task to meet production and overhead costs without an increased subscription base and assistance from other sources. Therefore, periodically the paper will run subscription/renewal/donation coupons and encourage readers to “tell a friend,” about the benefits of a diocesan newspaper. In fact, The Anchor has already received donations from a number of faithful in the diocese.
The Anchor has already spoken with a close friend, Holy Cross Family Ministries, headquartered in Easton. HCFM and The Anchor have had a strong relationship, with some Holy Cross Fathers periodically writing for the paper, and The Anchor’s extensive coverage of the sainthood process for HCFM’s founder, Servant of God, Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, the “Rosary Priest,” who is buried in the diocese on the grounds of Stonehill College in Easton. The ministry is excited to support The Anchor in the change to a new format and a “call to action” to maintain a Catholic press presence in the diocese.
The Anchor is also seeking the support of other benefactors and Catholic institutions who may be willing to be a part of that call to action of bringing the Good News of Church teaching to the thousands who are now receiving The Anchor, many of whom are home- or nursing home-bound.
An online drive has also been set up at gofundme.com/anchor for those who would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help The Anchor. A link to the site will also be available at The Anchor website at anchornews.org.
In an almost prophetic manner, Bishop Connolly said in his statement in The Anchor’s maiden edition 58 years ago, “With all our easy entertainment on radio and TV, we still need the printed word. Books and newspapers have always been regarded as sources of reliable information. The Catholic pulpit needs the help of the Catholic press. Much of our conviction, and most of our learning depends on what we read, understand and believe.
“The Anchor will broaden the horizon of our interest and make us surer and stronger in our faith. I am confident it will make friends quickly and keep them through the years.”
Through prayers and the help of diocesan faithful, may The Anchor remain “up and away” for years to come.