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James F. Vanderholt

CATHOLIC JOURNALISM. For many years journalism has played an important role in the ministry of teaching in the Catholic Church; the decree on communications, the first of the sixteen documents issued by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, has given impetus to the Catholic press. Catholic journalism had its beginning in Texas long before that, however. In the nineteenth century the dioceses of Dallas and Galveston briefly attempted to produce papers. Individual Catholic ethnic groups produced papers. Parishes sometimes produced newsletters, though usually for the purpose of raising funds.

The most important Catholic newspaper in Texas, the Southern Messenger, started as a parish-sponsored paper in San Antonio and was taken over by the Menger family. It went through a series of titles: Saint Mary's Review (January 15-May 15, 1891), Saint Mary's Weekly Review (June 6, 1891-January 30, 1892), and Southern Messenger (March 8, 1894-August 8, 1957). The Southern Messenger was consolidated with the Alamo Register (June 5, 1942-August 9, 1957) to form the Alamo Messenger, published August 18, 1957, to July 21, 1972.

Each of the fourteen dioceses of Texas has its own journalistic history. The Diocese of Amarillo was the first to publish its own newspaper, which has changed names several times. It has been known as the Texas Panhandle Register (1936–47), the Amarillo Register (1948–56), the West Texas Register (1956–84), and the West Texas Catholic (1985-).

The Diocese of Austin published its paper under the names Lone Star Catholic (1957–61), Lone Star Register (1961–68), and Texas Catholic Herald-Austin Edition (1968–80) before suspending publication. It was revived as the Catholic Journal (1982–83) and subsequently renamed the Catholic Spirit (January 1983-).

The Diocese of Beaumont has published a paper since its beginning, first under the name Texas Catholic Herald (1966–82) and then under the title East Texas Catholic (1982-).

The Diocese of Brownsville briefly published a paper titled Valley Catholic Witness (1967–72).

In the Diocese of Corpus Christi a privately owned and published Catholic paper titled Corpus Christi Post was published from 1954 to 1966. The official diocesan newspaper started with the Texas Gulf Coast Register (1966–70), which became the Texas Gulf Coast Catholic (1970–79) and afterward the South Texas Catholic (1980-). The staff of the diocesan paper published a thirty-two-page supplement on the life of Bishop Thomas Drury that was placed in each copy of the South Texas Catholic and the secular daily Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

The Diocese of Dallas sponsored a paper in the nineteenth century titled the Texas Catholic (1891–92). In Jefferson the local pastor privately published a paper, the Jeffersonian (1948–53), for the Catholics of the east end of the diocese. The diocese began a paper on September 24, 1952, under the title Texas Catholic.Father James Tucek, an editor of the Texas Catholic,was promoted to the Vatican Office of Communications and was in charge of the English-speaking world during the Second Vatican Council. He also wrote four books.

The Diocese of El Paso has had three different papers. The original one, Revista Católica, was owned by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The diocese's own first paper, the South West Catholic Register, was published from 1922 to February 24, 1967. A new one was begun on May 1, 1991, and titled the Rio Grande Catholic.

The Diocese of Fort Worth has published a paper since its beginning in 1969. It has had two titles, Texas Catholic, Fort Worth Edition (1969–84), and North Texas Catholic (1985-). An independent Catholic paper was published in 1924 called the Fort Worth Catholic Review.

The Diocese of Galveston (see GALVESTON-HOUSTON, CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF) had a paper briefly in the nineteenth century, the Texas Catholic Herald. It began publishing again on May 14, 1964, under the same name. For a while it published an edition for the dioceses of Beaumont (1966–82) and Austin (1968–80).

The Diocese of Lubbock began publication of the South Plains Catholic on July 14, 1985.

The Diocese of San Angelo published the Texas Concho Register (1964–80) and changed the name to the West Texas Angeles in 1980.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio began publication of its own paper with the Alamo Register (June 5, 1942-August 9, 1957). The paper was renamed Alamo Messenger on August 15, 1957, when it merged with the Southern Messenger, and continued publication under this title until July 21, 1972, when it changed its name to Today's Catholic. Also published in San Antonio were three Spanish-language papers: Ecos de la Catedral (February to June 1918), La Fe Católica (March 27, 1897-August 4, 1900) and La Voz (October 11, 1937-January 14, 1951), and one German paper, Katholische Rundschau (December 2, 1897-August 14, 1918).

The Diocese of Tyler has published Catholic East Texas since 1987.

The Diocese of Victoria has published the Catholic Lighthouse since May 29, 1986.


Elizabeth Anne Delaney, Diocesan Newspaper Reading and Church Activity: How Reading The Catholic Spirit is Related to Church Participation in the Diocese of Austin (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1989). James Hasdorff, The Southern Messenger and the Mexican Church-State Controversy, 1917–1941 (M.A. thesis, St. Mary's University, 1968). Sister M. Alpheus Murphy, The Efforts of Louis William Menger to Combat the A.P.A. through the Southern Messenger, 1892–1898 (Ph.D. dissertation, Catholic University of America, 1964). Eugene P. Willging and Herta Hatzfeld, Catholic Serials of the Nineteenth Century in the United States, Second Series, Part 13 (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1966).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, James F. Vanderholt, "CATHOLIC JOURNALISM," accessed August 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/emc01.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on May 23, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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