The Catholic Bulletin / Catholic Spirit

Catholic bulletin (St. Paul, Minn.) 1911-1995  Browse the title

Catholic spirit (St. Paul, Minn.) 1996-current  Browse the title
Issues from this title can only be accessed from the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.

The Catholic Bulletin of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota was established by Archbishop John Ireland January 7, 1911 as an 8-page weekly, with an initial circulation of 2,500. Its first editor was Father James Reardon. The diocese (it was elevated to archdiocese in 1888) had been established in 1850, and had previously issued a publication titled Northwestern Chronicle between 1866 and 1900, when it sold that newspaper to a publisher in Milwaukee. 

The Catholic Bulletin was intended to be an organ of and for the entire archdiocese. According to Father Reardon, the editor of the paper was given the authority to shape the content of the publication without having to seek the approval of the Archbishop, who did not want the newspaper to be merely a platform for the Archbishop’s views and teachings. In the 1950s Reardon recalled, “The only instruction to the editor was to publish an interesting, well-written and well-edited Catholic newspaper, non-political and non-controversial, which did not necessarily reflect the Archbishop’s views on any subject. With the exception of what he himself wrote, he never saw, or asked to see, a line of any editorial or article that appeared in The Catholic Bulletin until it came from the press.” 

During the first decade of its existence, the Catholic Bulletin featured news relevant to Catholics in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, national Catholic news, and reports of Catholic events and developments in Europe. The paper also included non-religious news, reviews of Catholic literature, and reports from missionaries in various parts of the world, especially Africa and Asia. A section was devoted to doctrinal and liturgical issues, and a Saint was introduced for the week. The newspaper brought reports from each diocese in the entire province, including North and South Dakota along with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and other Minnesota dioceses. Letters to the editor were regularly selected and printed, as were articles providing practical advice for the daily lives of the readers by the Department of “Domestic Science.” After the United States entered World War I in 1917, the newspaper began to bring more news of the developments on the war fronts. Income from subscriptions was regularly supplemented by advertisement publication fees from local businesses.  

By 1922, 25,000 copies of the Catholic Bulletin were printed. That same year Father John Volz succeeded Father Reardon as editor-in-chief, a year after Reardon had been named pastor of the Pro-Cathedral of Minneapolis (in 1926 renamed Basilica of St. Mary) where he remained until his death in 1963. In 1925, the paper was put under the direction of a lay editor, Bernard Vaughn, who served until 1957. 

The Catholic Bulletin was renamed the Catholic Spirit in 1996. That title continues in publication as of 2019, with a circulation of nearly 85,000, and is available in both print and digital formats. It has evolved from an 8-page, text-only weekly into a 28-page, richly illustrated, semi-monthly.