HUNTINGTON — Our Sunday Visitor is celebrating its centennial in 2012, starting with an open house at its Huntington headquarters 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The company serves millions of Catholics worldwide through its publishing, offertory, curriculum and communication services.
Established in 1912 by a local parish priest, Our Sunday Visitor has grown into the nation’s largest supplier of offering envelopes, online giving, websites, parish and diocesan mailings, books, periodicals, curriculum and stewardship services. Our Sunday Visitor is a not-for-profit organization, returning a portion of net earnings back to the Catholic community through the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
“Catechetically, formationally, Our Sunday Visitor is a great treasure trove,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C. “I think there is something wholesome about Our Sunday Visitor. It doesn’t apologize for what we believe. It simply presents it clearly and in a refreshing manner.”
The date of the open house was chosen to coincide with the first publication of the Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly. Our Sunday Visitor’s founder, Father John Francis Noll, who eventually became archbishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, published the national newsweekly in Huntington on May 5, 1912. It was one of the most visible tools he used to express the mission of the company, which still drives the company today, “to serve the Church.”
“Father Noll recognized a great need in the immigrant-based Catholic Church in the early 1900s to understand what the Church teaches and why, in order to defend themselves against the many anti-Catholic movements of the day,” said Kyle Hamilton, president of Our Sunday Visitor’s Offertory Solutions Division. “Father Noll was a charismatic entrepreneur who developed simple, effective resources that helped Catholics grow in faith and spirit. “
“What we are about these days is the same as what Archbishop Noll was about,” said Greg Erlandson, president and publisher of the Publishing Division of Our Sunday Visitor. “We are about responding to people’s needs. We are about helping them to bring their Catholic faith to life. We are about helping them to see what is real and important in this life, and how it will connect them to the next.”
Today, Our Sunday Visitor operates in two divisions: Publishing and Offertory Solutions. The company’s chairman of the board is always the standing bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, but the organization is independent from the diocese itself.
The divisions are housed in a 220,000-square-foot plant in northeastern Indiana, with more than 300 on staff in its Huntington facility and dozens more at their facilities in Orlando, Fla., and Boardman, Ohio. It has grown steadily through its history, serving as one of the largest and most stable employers in Huntington. The organization has tripled in size within the last 10 years through new product development and acquisitions.
“Pastors cannot do it alone,” said Father Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, Colo. “It is important that a company like Our Sunday Visitor partner with parishes and with their good will, their advice, their financial support through the institute. It has helped so many people get it. … There is something genuine and real that I am proud to be a part of.”
The publishing division is one of the largest Catholic publishing companies in the world with a significant presence in periodicals, in retail, in consumer sales and web, in schools and in parishes. The division offers a full range of print and e-materials including, books, periodicals, pamphlets and other solutions. The division also includes full religious curriculum for pre-school, kindergarten through eighth grade and high school.
“Our Sunday Visitor has always had that wonderful balance, bringing together sound doctrine, sound content, reliable and trustworthy, at the same time doing it in a creative way and in a way that reaches people in the language of today,” said Jem Sullivan, adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America and recent staff to the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Our Sunday Visitor has done tremendous work providing resources for families, young adults and teenagers, to shape, form and transform adults as they raise their children.”
Our Sunday Visitor Offertory Solutions division is the largest offering envelope provider in the world. It also provides products and services that help Catholic organizations enhance offertory, improve communications to parishioners and build vibrant parish communities. The division’s offerings include web-based Online Giving, websites for parishes and dioceses, offering envelopes and increased offertory consulting and programs. Offertory Solutions converts and prints more than 600 million offering envelopes every year, as well as a variety of materials for stewardship, bishop’s appeals and seasonal communications.
“Archbishop Noll was a man of vision, ready to explore all possibilities,” said Msgr. Jacques Plante of the Providence, R.I. diocese. “I think the organization really embodies that. I see its commitment. I keep telling everyone they have to walk through the plant. …The organization has always been true to his commitment, his priestly zeal, priestly concern and his priestly vision.
“The other reason people should visit Huntington is it is a cheerful and happy place. It’s one of those places you walk through and you go, this must be a pretty nice place to work,” he added.
About the open house
The May 5 open house at Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza in Huntington, will begin with a welcome by local civic and Church officials, including Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. Our Sunday Visitor will open up its facility so that guests can tour the publishing division, the chapel, the envelope production area, the warehouse and more. A light lunch will be served, and there will be activities for children. It is the first open house held by the company in more than 20 years.
Future plans for the celebration of Our Sunday Visitor’s 100th anniversary include a symposium on Sept. 28 at the Grand Wayne Center featuring Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Dr. Scott Hahn and Dr. Helen Alvare. It will be followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving and Rededication celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and a reception and dinner that will feature keynote speaker Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
“It is an honor to be in this business,” said Erlandson. “It is an honor to be able to do work that matters. It is an honor to be able to hold ourselves accountable so that we can work together to build up the kingdom. And it is an honor to work with all of the incredible, dedicated, brilliant servants of the Lord in parishes, diocese and other Catholic organizations around the country and the world.
“Together, we do God’s work,” he said. “And at day’s end — when we turn out our lights at Our Sunday Visitor — we then remind ourselves that this is God’s business, not ours. That little insight is the ultimate source of our optimism, the ultimate source of our faith in the future. He has been with us all these years, and He will be using our talents tomorrow to shape the future.”
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