Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 19, 2005
WCR marks 40th anniversary
Founding editor hosts celebration, lauds Jordan’s vision and courage
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Forty-one years ago, Archbishop Anthony Jordan invited Douglas Roche to come to Edmonton and consider whether a new Catholic newspaper could be started in the archdiocese in light of the Second Vatican Council.
Roche was associate editor of a Catholic monthly magazine in Union City, N.J., when he received the invitation.
In November 1964, he spent a weekend with Father Bill Irwin, preparing his report for the archbishop. Three months later, Roche was again contacted by Jordan, but this time the archbishop wanted Roche to return and stay to become the new paper’s first editor.
The Western Catholic Reporter was born and on Sept. 9, 1965, the first edition was published.
Archbishop Jordan’s vision
“The vision and courage of Archbishop Jordan in starting the paper changed my life,” Roche told more than 30 people who gathered Sept. 11 in his home to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the WCR.
Roche served as editor of the newspaper until 1972 when he was elected a member of Parliament. There, he served for 12 years before becoming Canada’s disarmament ambassador. Retired last year from a seat in Canada’s Senate, Roche continues to lobby strenuously for world peace and disarmament.
At the reception, Archbishops Thomas Collins and Joseph MacNeil were joined by current and former WCR staff and board members to celebrate what Roche called a “poignant moment” in his life.
“The confidence (Jordan) reposed in me in those early years, I have never forgotten. I would like this celebration today to be in his honour. His legacy lives on.”
Roche said the WCR has consistently been faithful to the ideals of the Second Vatican Council in helping to build community in the Archdiocese of Edmonton and beyond.
Roche reflected on its modest beginnings and marvelled at how the WCR has blossomed into Canada’s largest weekly religious newspaper.
He mentioned former associate editor Frank Dolphin and business manager Stu Lindop as having a significant hand in launching the paper.
“Having them by my side meant a lot to me,” Roche said.
He also paid tribute to former general manager Elmar Abele for helping to put the WCR back on its feet when it was in troubled financial times.
During Roche’s seven years as editor, the WCR won 11 first place awards in competitions sponsored by the Catholic Press Association and the Associated Church Press.
The high standard and quality continues under the direction of current editor Glen Argan. Roche described him as a man who understands how to take the intellectuality and ramifications of Vatican II and translate them, creating an active and interactive newspaper that touches the community.
Argan said he has met people recently who have told him they thought the WCR was important, that it helps to knit the Catholic community together.
After 40 years, it showed Argan that there is still a lot of enthusiasm for the WCR.
“It really does help us to reflect on our faith and perhaps to live it out,” Argan said. “I think in its own small way, the WCR does that.”
Collins’ ongoing support
Argan expressed his gratitude to Collins not only for permitting the WCR to continue when he became archbishop of Edmonton in 1999, but for his continued support.
Collins told the group, “Within the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, there is a profound reflection on ways in which we are called within this world, to the mission of Christ as prophet, priest and shepherd.
“All of us in our own different roles within the Church, need to speak forth the Word of the Lord.
“It’s our mission to help ourselves and the world to understand the meaning of God in our lives. That is why the mission of the (WCR) is to make present in our archdiocese the prophetic mission of the Church; to reflect the light of Christ upon the different incidents and events in our contemporary scene.”