Journalist finds saintly role model

By  Vanessa Baker, Youth Speak News
  • September 24, 2007

As a young person pursuing a future in journalism, there are a number of qualities I must possess. Characteristics such as curiosity, dedication, intelligence, passion, patience and humility can take one a long way in this field. In today’s money-centred world of corruption and hidden agendas, it can be difficult to find a suitable role model on such a complicated career path.

St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, embodies all of the traits that create not just a good journalist, but a moral one. He was a very patient man, always waiting for God’s will to come to him, rather than going out and searching for it. For 13 years St. Francis knew of his calling to the priesthood but never mentioned it to anyone.

Patience like this is a virtue all journalists should possess. Our society often promotes figuring out what you want and then going for it. If you just wait for your dreams to come true, they’ll often pass you by. As a journalist, you can’t sit around waiting for the news to fall in your lap, you’ve got to go out there and find it. If we get too caught up in controlling our own lives, however, we become blind to the will of God.

St. Francis also demonstrated a passion and dedication that is vital for a journalist. During the Protestant Reformation, he took up the mission of bringing 60,000 Calvinists in Switzerland back to Catholicism. The lack of welcome he experienced would tempt anyone to give up on such a monumental task, but St. Francis would not be discouraged. Just as any good journalist would, when he couldn’t get people to listen to him preach, he began to write down his sermons and slide them under people’s doors. Just like St. Francis, when we journalists have a message we want to get across, we should spread the word in any form we can.

There is no doubt St. Francis was passionate about spreading the word of God. As a journalist, it is sometimes difficult to stick to personal morals and beliefs, while at the same time trying to maintain a certain amount of objectivity. But St. Francis didn’t worry about the criticisms he received about his books or his letters. He was only ever interested in the review of one critic — God.

There is a lot that journalists can learn from St. Francis de Sales, both from his teachings and through his example. His last word, uttered on his deathbed to a nun, was “humility.” Someone who had converted 40,000 Calvinists to Catholicism and made such an impact through his writings and his works could easily allow all of that to go to his head, but he didn’t.

As a journalist, especially one who was first published at the age of 16, I sometimes find it difficult to achieve a balance between the confidence needed to perform such a forward job and an arrogance about the fact that people all across the country are reading my words. There’s such a power that comes with being able to reach so many people, but along with that comes the responsibility to stay humble and keep in mind that everything is ultimately in God’s hands and everything we do is for Him.

(Baker is a first-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa)

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