“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.”

These well-known and oft-repeated words from Ecclesiastes have guided many people through the inevitable seasons of change that are the stuff of life. While the verse does help us to accept that which we cannot change, it comes with the lesson that no one knows for sure the right time to act. All things are in God’s time.

Still, we all need to take action, doing our best to respond to the challenges of our time and hoping that our actions are pleasing to God. That is where The Monitor and all who work to produce it are now situated, intent on what we pray will be effective action in service to the community of believers that make up the Diocese of Trenton.

As sure as we know that folding up the newspaper and starting a monthly magazine will be a healthy and successful step for the Diocese, I must admit that the journey to this place has not always been clear or uncomplicated. For someone who has produced and overseen a Catholic newspaper every day of a nearly 30-year career, promoting the merits of this instrument of evangelization and fighting for its future have been a core principal of my work and the value I hoped to bring to our diocesan family.

I have held fast to this principle, even as trends, influences and resources have changed around us; not because I was afraid of change, but because I believed that publishing a diocesan newspaper and inviting people to avail themselves of it was the most cost-effective and impactful way to keep people “informed and inspired” in the matters of our faith. Empirical data affirmed this principle … of all the means we use in the Diocese to communicate – be it digital, social, video or even television programming – there has not been anything that engaged our community as consistently and comprehensively as The Monitor newspaper.

The decisions, and sometimes second thoughts, of other dioceses as they, too, tried to arrive at the best way to communicate in these changing times also strengthened our belief in the importance of  persevering with our print product. One West Coast diocese shut down its newspaper more than 15 years ago and replaced it with an expensively produced magazine that they sent to all households. It was not long before they needed to revert to their newspaper format.

Other dioceses placed their trust in a national level magazine publisher, which resulted in the closure of many newspapers. A main feature of these magazines is what we call in the business “canned copy” that was not local or a reflection of the unique character and mission of the diocese. Some dioceses later concluded that this type of magazine format failed to fulfill their need for local reporting and content, and either switched back to a newspaper or supplemented the magazine with a resurrected version of their newspaper.

So what changed, readers may wonder? Why did the idea of a magazine in place of a newspaper become the chosen path?  The reasons are many, and more than what can be conveyed here. But in a nutshell, it is simply this: the realization that the newspaper format was no longer the best way to present the kind of content that we are called to do. It cannot be denied that newspapers have fallen out of fashion.  Some younger people admit to never opening one, regardless of how good the content inside might be. And, because we have been publishing special magazines supplements for a number of years, we have seen that the same type of story and photo package that earned limited response in the newspaper has gotten rave reviews in our magazine supplements.

With the widespread availability and ease of the website, key news can be communicated on a daily basis, allowing the requisite time and space to do more in-depth reporting and reader-focused features in the magazine.

As the day approached that we would be publishing our last newspaper edition, I, along with my colleagues, have allowed ourselves some sentiment and nostalgia. But that has quickly given way to excitement and a sense of resolve to make The Monitor magazine, and our expanded website, something that all of our readers will value and enjoy. We ask you all for your support and prayers as we begin this new journey on behalf of the Diocese of Trenton.