The Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart will cease to publish as it can no longer sustain itself financially. Photo by Peter Ash

Canada’s oldest Catholic magazine runs its course

  • June 11, 2014

TORONTO - Canada’s oldest Catholic print publication, the Jesuits’ Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart, will go to print for the final time this month after 124 continuous years in production.

“Our leadership has deter-mined that since the number of subscribers has plummeted in the last five years, the operation can no longer sustain itself financially,” said Fr. Philip Shano, Messenger of the Sacred Heart’s editor. “It has used all of its funds and depleted the reserves.”

At the moment the Toronto based publication boasts a sub-scription of only about 2,400. It relies strictly on subscriptions and donations and does not accept advertisements or subsidies, not even from the Jesuits, to publish a 32-page magazine 11 times a year.

“At one point (subscriptions were) much higher,” said Shano. “I gather it has plummeted in recent years. As readers aged and passed there were few younger subscrib-ers.”

June will be the final issue of the publication which first launched in 1891. It originally was published out of Montreal and moved to Toronto in 1925. Its circulation has varied over the years, reaching 45,000 in 1920, and dropping slightly to 43,000 in 1940. It published its 500th edition in 2012 under then-editor Fr. Frederick Power, S.J., who was at the helm of the magazine for almost 50 years.

News of the demise comes on the heals of the publication’s recently announced, and yet to be launched, digital edition.

“A digital presence was created which would begin to offer the magazine in an online format,” said Shano. “Unfortunately, after looking into the financial picture, the Jesuits of English Canada have determined that this is not feasible and the July and August digital magazines will be the final issues.”

Attempting to curb the financial woes facing all print media due to rising printing and postage costs by increasing subscription rates wasn’t realistic for the magazine, noted Shano.

“To increase the subscription price, as a few subscribers suggested, would not have been practical,” he said. “The price would have been exorbitant and beyond the means of our elderly readers.”

He continued by saying that the Jesuits hope that subscribers will understand the financial pressures of the publication and donate the remainder of their subscription rather than seek a refund.

“We are hoping that upon hearing this latest news, (subscrib-ers) will consider the remaining money on (their) subscription as a donation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” he said. “We ask for your prayers and assure you of ours.”

Although the publication will close, Shano said he intends to continue maintaining the web site.

“Once the dust settles, I will be maintaining and enhancing our web site,” he said. “We are also hoping to begin in September to share many of the articles that are presently in our files and did not yet appear in the magazine.”

Accessing the web site, including these articles, comes “at no further cost,” as Shano’s attention will go towards strength-ening the Apostleship of Prayer for English Canada, the ministry which gave birth to the Messenger of the Sacred Heart.

“So although the magazine is dying the Apostleship of Prayer will be strengthened,” he said. “It’s really a question of discern-ment, what is the best use of our resources.” 

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