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Closure of PM sparks memories and thanksgiving

By Art Babych


It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since I was hired as editor of the Prairie Messenger. What started as a personal commitment of two years lasted more than three years, thanks to the encouragement and support of editor-in-chief, Father Andrew Britz, and the Prairie Messenger staff.

My new job required that I move closer to where St. Peter’s Abbey, the oldest Benedictine monastery in Canada, and the Prairie Messenger, are located. Thanks to a wonderful local resident, John Stewart, I was able to rent his small home in Muenster at an incredibly low price.

Another plus was the daily short drive to the serene rural setting of the Benedictine community. It contrasted sharply with the noises, busyness and traffic bottlenecks of my previous home in Saskatoon.

And topping it off was the warm feeling of being surrounded by friendly, dedicated staff members when I arrived at work.

Since the impending demise of the Prairie Messenger was announced last year, many articles, columns and letters to the editor, have been written expressing thoughts and feelings on the impact the newspaper has had in their lives and mourning its loss.

But if the closure of the Prairie Messenger is akin to the death of a friend, it seems appropriate also to celebrate the life of that friend. I do so with thanksgiving:

— for the important role the Prairie Messenger has played in promoting the Catholic Church’s authentic social teaching.

— for the constant companionship of the prayers of the monks of St. Peter’s Abbey.

— for the kind and hard-working staff of the Prairie Messenger and St. Peter’s Press, some of who have remained with the newspaper since before I became editor and whose jobs, sadly, will end soon.

— for the faithful readers and talented contributors.

— for the prophetic Benedictine monk, Father Andrew Britz. It was Andrew who invited me to become editor after having served as the newspaper’s correspondent for the Diocese of Ottawa. I had also been a part-time reporter at CBC Saskatoon. It was Andrew who gave me editorial freedom (and his office) at the Prairie Messenger. And when I announced I was leaving, it was Andrew who invited me to become the first reporter for Canadian Catholic News in Ottawa. And in so doing, I became the first religion reporter in the Parliamentary Press Galley in Ottawa.

— for assistant editor Sister Marian Noll, OSU, who I could always trust to replace my misplaced modifiers.

— for the hummingbird that occasionally fluttered by my office window leaving a smile on my face.

Thanks for the memories, Prairie Messenger. Well done!

Art Babych was editor of the Prairie Messenger from 1989 to early 1992.