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History of the Catholic Press Association
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About Us

The CPA has been uniting and serving the Catholic press for more than one hundred years. The Catholic Press Association is by all accounts the most active and vibrant group of Catholic communicators in the world. It has nearly 225 publication members and 600 individual members in the association. Member print publications reach nearly 10 million households plus countless others through our members’ websites and social media outlets.

The CPA vision affirms that effective communications lie at the heart of the Church’s mission to preach the Good News to all.

To support this mission in today’s media-intensive and diverse world, the CPA is a trusted and primary provider of:

  • Community for collegial support and professional development
  • Advocacy for journalism and media professionals
  • Resources for Catholic communications professionals and ecclesial leaders
  • Expertise in Catholic media and communications
The success of the CPA arises from the participation of its members in the association — supporting, encouraging and sharing with their colleagues and peers. The CPA encourages collaboration not only among its members but also with Church leaders, Catholic organizations and with the broader secular media to effectively accomplish the mission of Catholic communicators.

History of the Catholic Press

As the United States was forming, nativism, or opposition to immigration, was strong. This lack of social standing placed pressure on immigrants and created a need to unite and educate, to bring news from home, and to fight for civil and religious rights in a new country. The immigrants accomplished this by forming societies and associations; creating Catholic journals and newspapers.

Bishop John England was an experienced editor who emigrated from Ireland. He initially used the secular press to explain Catholicism but soon realized that he needed his own vehicle to address misrepresentations of the faith. Bishop England started the first Catholic diocesan paper, the Catholic Miscellany, in 1822 in Charleston, SC.

Other bishops did not launch papers at this time, but by 1837 they welcomed the independent Catholic papers at the close of the Third Plenary Council in Baltimore. They expressed their wishes that even though the publications were not officially sanctioned by the bishops, the clergy and faithful should support them. They noted that the journals were useful to “explain our tenets, defend our rights and vindicate our conduct”. In 1884, Bishops recommended that each Catholic household receive at least one Catholic periodical of good repute.

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Catholics made an asserted effort to move from parochial and ethnic organizations to national organizations and professional associations. Editors and publicists discussed forming the Catholic Press or an association for those working in the field.

After four previous attempts failed, the present-day Catholic Press Association was organized at a meeting at the Chittenden Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, August 24-25, 1911. About 60 delegates representing 37 publications attended, including a half dozen women, almost two dozen priests and more than 30 laymen. The aim of the new Association would be to publicize news of Catholic interest, combat the negative influence of some of the secular press, develop a news service, secure national advertising and agitate against higher postal rates.

The first CPA Convention in 1911, Columbus, Ohio

We, the Catholic press, face the same challenges that existed nearly 200 years ago: explaining and defending the Catholic Church.

Today the CPA provides a variety of programs to support members facing those challenges:
  • Professional development: the Catholic Media Conference and webinars
  • Networking opportunities both in-person and through social channels
  • Consultation services to analyze and improve procedures of member organizations
  • Award programs to acknowledge excellence in the field
  • Member newspaper to inform on best practices, first amendment rights issues, and upcoming events
The Catholic Press Association facilitates members’ collaboration, sharing and ultimately strengthening of the Catholic press.


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