By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published October 20, 2016 | En Español
While many of our youngsters may have browsed a magazine or two, they may not have actually purchased one. Once a very popular source of information and entertainment, magazines in general have fallen on hard times—or at least the print editions of magazines. Our teenagers may have to ask their parents to discover how fashionable and informative the weekly or biweekly editions of Life, Look, Ebony, Time, Jet and Newsweek were to a large swath of the public. In recent years with the advent of popular digital devices, all print media has had to face a major shift in how information is delivered and has experienced a serious decline in circulation.
So why are we introducing a new magazine? Because we have a targeted audience that needs our special attention—our teenagers who are preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation! Statistics suggest that niche publications created for a specific community continue to reach their audiences with great success.
We have designed this new magazine in active consultation with our youngsters—they even chose the name and are the featured subjects of the magazine. This magazine is an evangelization vehicle designed to help them connect life to faith and faith to life especially as they are preparing for or recently have celebrated Confirmation. It will be published twice a year—in the autumn and in the spring.
Our teenagers offered a number of proposed titles for the magazine and eventually settled on the title: The Mark. The title refers both to St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: “I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.” Galatians 6:17 is the reference that Pope Francis made to the young people at World Youth Day this past summer in Poland: telling them to leave a mark on the world.
While there will be print editions of The Mark available for our kids at their parishes, the magazine will then be available online for everyone—including parents, grandparents, catechists, youth ministers and teachers. Everyone can access The Mark through our archdiocesan website: www.archatl.com.
However, the prime purpose and the specific audience of this new initiative remains our youngsters themselves as they prepare for the sacrament of Confirmation. When our kids have the courage and the desire to identify their faith concerns, they show both an important interest in their faith family as well as a sign of our future health as a community of believers.
The Mark is a work of evangelization, but one that springs from young people themselves as they are in the midst of preparing for Confirmation. As candidates for this sacrament, they are being challenged to discover and to accept the responsibility of leaving a “mark” on the world. They are being prepared to assume their share of caring for those who are too often neglected or overlooked in our society. The magazine puts our youngsters at the center of its focus and its design. It offers a safe space where young people can share their concerns and questions about growing in faith. When and where do they pray? What teachings of the Church need better explanation for young people? What do they want to do with their lives in the future? All of these questions are important questions for our youngsters, and The Mark helps them to raise them and to respond to them in the language and the style that is attractive to our kids. I pray that all of our youngsters will find it both informative and entertaining—the same goal that other magazines seem to have always accomplished so well.