June 22, 2016 // Local
Msgr. Owen Campion celebrates 50-year jubilee
By Jodi Marlin
HUNTINGTON — Msgr. Owen Francis Campion observes his golden jubilee as a priest in 2016.
Msgr. Campion was born in Nashville, Tennesee, on April 24, 1940, the son of Owen Finnegan Campion and Frances Bass Campion, both natives of Nashville.
After attending Overbrook School and Father Ryan High School in Nashville, he graduated from St. Bernard College, in Cullman, Alabama, and completed his theological training at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Nashville on May 21, 1966. Later, he studied catechetics at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
For four years he served as associate director of religious education for the Diocese of Nashville, with the special duty of training teachers and directors in parish programs.
From 1971 to 1988 he was editor-in-chief of The Tennessee Register, the Catholic newspaper for middle and east Tennessee. During this time the Nashville diocese was divided twice, resulting in the creation of the dioceses of Memphis and then of Knoxville. He assisted in forming communications structures in both of the new dioceses.
In 1988 Msgr. Campion became associate publisher of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Inc., the largest publisher of Catholic periodicals and books in English in the world, and editor of The Priest. He retires from both positions this year.
Active for many years in the Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada, he served as a member of its board of directors, was twice elected treasurer and served as the association’s 36th national president.
Pope John Paul II appointed him ecclesiastical adviser to the International Catholic Union of the Press, the official, worldwide organization of Catholic publishers and journalists, in 1989. He served until 1998, interacting on behalf of the Holy See with Catholic publishers and journalists around the world, especially as Catholic social communications were again able to function freely in Eastern Europe following the collapse of Marxism.
Pope John Paul conferred on him the dignity of Prelate of Honor, with the title of “Reverend Monsignor,” expressly complimenting his involvement in Church communications worldwide and especially his service to Catholic journalists in Eastern Europe and developing states in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In 2000, the same pontiff designated him a member of the Synod of Bishops for the Americas, one of 13 priests in the Western hemisphere and Europe so chosen; and in 2006 appointed him to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the organization of 50 men and women from around the world who consult with the Vatican on matters of mass communications. He served until 2012.
He held two terms, beginning in 1985 and again in 1992, on the Committee on Communications of the United States Catholic bishops’ conference. In 1993 the Episcopal conference invited him to organize and participate in a series of seminars for Catholic journalists in the formerly Marxist nations of the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.
He has visited over 30 American dioceses, at their request, to consult on their efforts in Church communications. For many years he was active in ecumenism, for seven years serving as ecumenism director for the Nashville diocese and as vice president of the Tennessee Council of Churches. He served as a consultant to the Roman Catholic-Southern Baptist Dialogue and was involved in Catholicism’s relations with Episcopalians and Judaism.
He received the Hinkhouse-De Rose Award from the Religious Public Religious Council, the ecumenical organization of religious journalists; the St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada; and the Daniel J. Kane Award for U. S. Catholic professional communicators from the University of Dayton. UCIP, in 2009, named him a member of its governing council for life.
Also in 2009, St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore granted him its Jean Jacques Olier Award, given to note achievement by an alumnus. In 2016, St. Bernard College in Alabama named him an Outstanding Alumnus.
Msgr. Campion is a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, with the Pilgrim’s Shell, and a Knight of Columbus. He is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Club, Sons of the American Revolution, the Jamestowne Society and of the Founding Families of Tennessee.
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