by Fr. Keith Branson, C.PP.S., Publications Editor
One of the great themes of Pope Francis’ tenure so far is a call to dialogue. In places where there is war, he calls the combatants to turn to dialogue rather than violence; where there is division and disagreement, the call is the same. He reaches out to atheists and religious leaders in friendship and calls for dialogue.
This is not something new to us as Precious Blood people. Gaspar didn’t name it as such, but he was always willing to dialogue with both his friends and his adversaries. Dialogue is essential to how we do ministry, borne of unconditional respect for all and a willingness to listen to different voices, both inside and outside the Church. Without dialogue, charity and collaboration are not possible. Without dialogue, we don’t have a Universal Church, much less a community.
Since being asked last month by province leadership to consider becoming the editor of community publications, and as I’ve reflected on this new ministry (for me), it seems to be a stewardship of dialogue more than anything else. As part of my preparation, I have read all the back issues of The New Wine Press and The Wine Cellar as well as other community publications (I didn’t have a lot of commitments over the holidays!). There has been both grace and tension reflected by those pages at times, but always a willingness to hear different voices, entertain different viewpoints, enter into dialogue. Above all, I hope our publications remain places of dialogue, and I will do everything I can to keep them that way.
I don’t know how well having a musician edit print publications will work: the only musician I’ve read about who did it well was Robert Schumann (who co-founded a magazine that’s still in business today), and he went crazy. However, it is not my talents that will keep our publications going strong, it is rather our community’s willingness to enter into dialogue with each other, the Church, and society as a whole that will keep The New Wine Press, The Wine Cellar, and our other publications relevant and alive. It is our ability to share our dreams, pool our insights, listen to the voices around us, and catch the song of the Kingdom of God which will appear on our pages, whether they be in traditional paper and ink or on the internet. Our publications help us stay in dialogue with each other as well as empowering our evangelization and proclamation of the power of the Blood of Christ.
The great TV journalist Hugh Downs used to end 20/20 with the phrase: “We’re in touch, so you’ll be in touch.” I will be in touch with you soon, and I look forward to hearing your stories as well as helping continue the dialogue.
Fr. Keith Branson, C.PP.S. is Publications Editor for the Kansas City Province. He also continues as the Director of the Gaspar Virtual Spirituality Center and chaplain at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri.