The Prairie Messenger begins Volume 95 with this issue. It will mark the last year the Prairie Messenger will be printed.
The PM board of governors, the monastic community of St. Peter’s Abbey, decided recently to end publication of the Prairie Messenger in May 2018, after Vol. 95 is completed.
The main issue is finances. The community decided it could not carry a debt that has ballooned to more than $200,000 a year.
We at the Prairie Messenger have much for which to be grateful. We have been sustained by the generosity of countless donors over these past many years, and by the encouragement of our faithful subscribers who found weekly nourishment in the Prairie Mesenger. As well, we greatly benefited from the annual grant provided by the Aid to Publishers of the federal government’s Canadian Periodical Fund. We are especially grateful for the vision and efforts of former editor Rev. Andrew Britz, OSB, who established the PM Sustaining Fund in the 1990s. The fund has extended the life of the Prairie Messenger for several years.
However, like a number of other religious and secular newspapers, we are affected by the changing times. The Internet and social media have changed the way people access news today. Our subscription base has fallen below 4,000 weekly subscribers.
It has not been an easy decision to terminate the Messenger. Our history extends back to 1923 when the English Messenger was started. The apostolate of the press goes back even further, to 1904, when the German newspaper, the St. Peter’s Bote, was first published; the first year it was edited in Rosthern and printed in Winnipeg.
In 1968, the monastic community faced a similar critical point. A lay board set up by the community advised that the paper be turned over to the laity, newly empowered by the Second Vatican Council. The monastic community decided not to follow its advice and to continue to edit and publish the paper.
In summary, the Prairie Messenger will continue to be published for another year, until May 2018. We thank you, our readers, for your support and “partnership” with us. We thank the bishops of Saskatchewan and Manitoba who contribute through their communications staff.
It certainly is with mixed feelings that we make this announcement.