FORT WAYNE — The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has named Stephanie Patka as the new director of the Secretariat for Communications. Patka, who most recently was the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County, will oversee all communication activities of the diocese, particularly that of communication director and business manager of Today’s Catholic, the TV Mass, Seventh Floor Productions and Today’s Catholic Travel.
Patka has strong ties within the diocese. She grew up on a farm in LaGrange and had been a member of St. Joseph Parish where she has been music director and involved with parish faith formation. Currently Patka attends St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Elkhart. She graduated from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame with a degree in communication studies and humanistic studies and resides in Elkhart where she directed Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County.
Patka is the oldest of four and enjoys a close relationship with her parents, her two brothers and their wives and her younger sister. She is proud of her Polish Catholic heritage. A gardener at heart and self professed nature lover, Patka enjoys growing plants, a trait she says she inherited from her mother.
Patka also has a passion for writing, and though she says she’s dabbled in community theater, her heart belongs to improv. “That’s kind of where my heart is — comedy and improvisation,” she admits. Musically inclined, Patka also plays the piano and guitar, not only for Masses at St. Joseph Church and other church events, but for personal pleasure as well and says, “That’s a stress relief for me.”
Patka is eager to join the team of Today’s Catholic newspaper and communications department and says, “Our Catholic faith is so beautiful. I’m excited about the role I think this department can play in making it more accessible to the people who don’t know they love it yet.”
She believes that although the Catholic experience for the faithful of the diocese is vastly different across the region, that the Church is the connecting point.
“There’s a lot to learn from each other,” she says, adding, “A lot we can share, celebrate and support each other in.”
The effervescent and articulate Patka brings a long list of skills to the position of communication director from leadership and organization to writing and public speaking. Her experience includes board development, fund raising and managing a not-for-profit organization.
“I’m looking forward to this new set of challenges and working for the Church in a way that utilizes my strengths and talents,” she says.
As for the future of Today’s Catholic newspaper and communications department, Patka hopes to involve parishioners across the diocese. “I love the idea of empowering people to help us do our job well. It’s about internal and external communication — internal communication to parishioners of the diocese — and being relevant,” she says. “Articulation of what you do is just as important as what you do if you want it to get covered by the media. I’d love to find an avenue to teach our family across northern Indiana — if you want it in the paper, this is how you say it. … We can all help shape our message. There are a lot of ways we can be accessible.”
Communication is a two-way street, says Patka. “While we are looking to project our voices and our message from the seventh floor of the Archbishop Noll Catholic Center, if anything we ought to welcome and encourage voices from all over northern Indiana to start engaging with us,” she says. “We welcome communication to this office!”
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