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After more than five decades providing high-quality pastoral and liturgical resources to Catholic parishes and people in ministry, Celebrate! magazine is shutting down due to increasing publication costs.

Novalis Publishing says the challenge of increasing costs prevented the magazine from breaking even financially.

While readers and organizations did much to sustain its life, Novalis decided to close the publication with the Fall 2012 issue. Readers can continue to access the magazine’s content at www.celebrate-liturgy.ca until Dec. 31.

Originally known as Homiletic Service, the magazine was launched in 1961 on the eve of the Second Vatican Council.

“We are deeply saddened to see the end of this excellent publication which gave so much to Catholics deeply engaged in the daily life of their Church,” said Joseph Sinasac, publishing director of Novalis. “Yet we remain committed to developing an online alternative for serving all those involved in the life of the Church.”

Sinasac also praised the work of its Edmonton-based editor Bernadette Gasslein for raising the journalistic standards to a high level over her 21 years at the helm.

“Under Bernadette’s passionate leadership, the magazine won from the Catholic Press Association and the Canadian Church Press dozens of awards for both its content and presentation,” he said.

In spite of having lost her job as editor, Gasslein is not idle. Currently she is assisting her husband Gordon Andreiuk, an Edmonton lawyer, and is doing some writing for an American publisher and for The Prairie Messenger.

“So I’m not really out of a job,” she said. “I also have a book coming out with Novalis in early spring.” The book, which she described as an imprint of Living with Christ, is a small 32-page book called Living with the Prayers of the Mass.

Celebrate! began in 1961 and was designed to offer homilists the new scholarship that was emerging. In 1988, when the name was changed to Celebrate! the focus broadened to include material for formation for all liturgical ministers and catechists. It was described as “a magazine for catechists, religion teachers, homilists and liturgy planners.”

The magazine has always been addressed to a “niche audience” in the sense that it is designed for ordained and lay ministers, said Gasslein.

“That is by nature a relatively small audience, and it is also a difficult audience to contact because lay ministers, unless they are on staff at parishes, change frequently.”

At last count, Celebrate! had a circulation of around 5,000.

Regular features in the magazine include material on children’s spirituality, ministry to youth and young adults, Christian initiation, formation for Eucharist, the connection between liturgy and social justice, catechesis and music ministry, and a special section designed for Catholic teachers.

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