WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Edmonton-based editor of Celebrate! Bernadette Gasslein displays the magazine's final issue along with a recent award from the Catholic Press Association.
After more than five decades providing high-quality pastoral and liturgical resources to Catholic parishes and people in ministry, Celebrate! Magazine is shutting down due to increasing publication costs.
In a Sept. 17 press release, Novalis Publishing says the challenge of increasing costs prevented the magazine from breaking even financially.
While readers and organizations did much to sustain its life, Novalis decided to close the publication with the Fall 2012 issue. Readers can continue to access the magazine's content at www.celebrate-liturgy.ca until Dec. 31.
Originally known as Homiletic Service, the magazine was launched in 1961 on the eve of the Second Vatican Council.
"We are deeply saddened to see the end of this excellent publication which gave so much to Catholics deeply engaged in the daily life of their Church," said Joseph Sinasac, publishing director of Novalis. "Yet we remain committed to developing an on-line alternative for serving all those involved in the life of the Church."
In the press release Sinasac also praised the work of its Edmonton-based editor Bernadette Gasslein for raising the journalistic standards to a high level over her 21 years at the helm.
"Under Bernadette's passionate leadership, the magazine won from the Catholic Press Association and the Canadian Church Press dozens of awards for both its content and presentation," he said. "These were well-deserved recognition of how hard Bernadette and her team of writers and collaborators worked and how in tune they were with the Church."
In spite of having lost her job as editor, Gasslein is not idle. Currently she is assisting her husband Gordon Andreiuk, an Edmonton lawyer, and is doing some writing for an American publisher and for the Saskatchewan-based newspaper The Prairie Messenger.
"So I'm not really out of a job," she said over the phone Sept. 17. "I also have a book coming out with Novalis in early spring." The book, which she described as an imprint of Living with Christ, is a small 32-page book called Living with the Prayers of the Mass.
Celebrate! began in 1961 as Homiletic Service, published by the Pastoral Centre at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. It was designed to offer homilists the new scholarship that was emerging.
In 1988, when the name was changed to Celebrate! the focus broadened to include material for formation for all liturgical ministers and catechists. It was described as "a magazine for catechists, religion teachers, homilists and liturgy planners."
In 2009 its format changed, and it became a full colour, 8.5 x 11 inch-publication, with the tag line, "The pastoral magazine with the liturgical heart," now dealing with all aspects of pastoral ministry.
The magazine has always been addressed to a "niche audience" in the sense that it is designed for ordained and lay ministers, Gasslein explained in an email interview.
"That is by nature a relatively small audience, and it is also a difficult audience to contact because lay ministers, unless they are on staff at parishes, change frequently."
At last count, Celebrate! had a circulation of around 5,000.
Regular features in the magazine include material on children's spirituality, ministry to youth and young adults, Christian initiation, formation for Eucharist, the connection between liturgy and social justice, catechesis and music ministry, and a special section designed for Catholic teachers. Articles were used in lay formation programs and in many other programs of formation.
Gasslein thinks there is a great need for "principled" publications like Celebrate! in the Church today and is sad to see the magazine close.
"Lots of people will miss Celebrate!" she said. "It will be missed by homilists, RCIA catechists and coordinators, musicians, lectors and classroom teachers – all of whom used the Feasting at the Two Tables section for preparing homilies, helping to select music, preparing Lectionary-based catechesis, understanding the background of the Scriptures, and helping others understand them."
"People who value the Canadian voice in the life of the Church will miss Celebrate!," Gasslein said. "People in different regions could find people they knew writing in its pages."