Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Irish Sacred Heart Messenger is 125 years old

http://messenger.ie/App_Themes/default/img/logo-messenger.pngThe Irish Sacred Heart Messenger is celebrating its 125th birthday with a special edition. 

The January issue features the cover of the very first magazine, published in January 1888, and inside there are photographs from the past. 

It also includes the story of the central role played by the promoters of the magazine by Donal Neary SJ and the first of a series of 30 articles by Brian Grogan SJ, on the life of the world to come, based on his recently published book; 'Where to From Here? The Christian Vision of Life After Death.'

"125 years ago Fr James Cullen, a Jesuit, wished that the minds and heart of the people of 1888 could be touched, just as Jesus touched minds and hearts back in Galilee. Maybe he got the idea after Ireland was consecrated to the Sacred Heart on Palm Sunday 1873. We may even have been the first country to be dedicated... And we are proud to say that it has been published in an unbroken series ever since, and in the same spirit in which it was founded." said John Looby SJ, Messsenger editor. 

Fr Cullen put his whole heart into founding The Messenger, and as he wanted it to be available to everyone it only cost a penny, and it has remained inexpensive ever since according to Fr Looby.

The circulation target in the first year was 7000 and it was 9,000. "Now with a world-wide readership, it celebrates its 125th birthday thanks to new generations of promoters and the creative spirit of God who wished it into being and has sustained it to this day," said Fr Looby.

Today the circulation is around 120,000, making the Messenger one of the best selling publications produced in Ireland. Most readers are in Ireland but some are also in Britain, the US , Canada , Australia, Africa and the Far East. 

It seems that wherever the Irish went, whether as missionaries or as economic migrants, they brought the Messenger with them. The magazine's production team receives over 50,000 letters per year, from all corners of the world but only a handful can be published each month.

The Messenger has also moved with the times. 

In October 2009 it temporarily abandoned its traditional trademark red colour for the first time ever and went  pink to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month. The pink edition had a special focus on breast cancer and includes a feature article by Carita Kerr entitled “Me and My Cancer: A Personal Journey.” 

Ten percent of all new postal subscriptions taken out in the month of October were donated to the charity Action Breast Cancer. 

“The Messenger receives thousands of letters every month and many of those letters leave us in no doubt about the prevalence of cancer and in particular breast cancer in Ireland. So we wanted to signal our concern and show our readiness to help,” said  John Looby, S.J, at the time. 

The magazine has been gradually modernizing appearance over the last few years with a revamped logo, and a fresher more accessible design to match the more contemporary tone of the articles. 

Other new features have included articles by celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna, and  Children’s Art Competition to design The Messenger’s Christmas card.

The Messenger has its own in-house publishing facilities and publishes magazines such as An Timire, in the Irish language, as well as other books including prayer books for schools. 

It manages its entire print process from design conception to published product, including advice on all aspects of print production down to suitable paper stocks, weights and binding, with an eye on the target audience. 

It also has its own website:  www.messenger.ie

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