Regular readers of Lifezette.com and CRUX are likely to be familiar with the insightful writing of Fr Michael Sliney and Fr Matthew Schneider, two Legionaries with a passion for writing.
Lifezette is the news and commentary site founded by popular radio host Laura Ingraham. Fr Sliney’s involvement with the publication arose through friendships.
“A personal friend of Laura Ingraham, whose friend I attend in spiritual direction, introduced me to LifeZette several years ago,” Fr Sliney said. Continuing the story of his involvement with the publication, he explained that “after a few months of reading my daily inspirational posts and seeing my InspireYou videos [on Facebook], she felt I would be a good fit for Laura’s new online presence in LifeZette. She reached out to Laura, showed her my stuff and the journey began.
“I rely heavily on the Holy Spirit for my creative ideas, as well as on my last 18 years of pastoral experience as a priest. I had the blessing of directing close to 20 ECYD Regnum Christi youth clubs for nearly 20 years in Washington DC. This meant getting personally immersed in the lives of many Catholic families. That alone has given me plenty of ammunition for my weekly articles. I also frequently ask people to contribute to my work, since they are often more in the trenches, and their pointed insights nicely complement my efforts.
“The LifeZette audience is mainstream, with a politically conservative and spiritually Christian base. This is a beautiful way to extend my ministry and hopefully influence the hearts and minds of many souls whom I would not normally reach. My main focus in all my work is to help Christ populate heaven, and I sincerely hope my words of wisdom contribute to this over-arching goal.
“My plate is full being the Lumen chaplain and spiritual director for our Greenwich and Manhattan teams, as well as supporting our team of young professionals in the city and a new Leadership Training Program in Greenwich with more than 35 kids. I actually find writing to be a form of therapy and mental relaxation. The 45-minute train ride becomes my moving office space, and this commute serves as the best opportunity to draft and later tweak nearly all of my content.
“Regnum Christi is called to transform culture. We are all asked to ‘fan our gifts into a flame’ (2 Timothy 1:6), with the goal of touching the hearts and minds of many, many souls for Christ. I consider writing to be a God-given gift, and I am trying my best to be an effective pencil in God’s hands, all for his greater glory and for the rapid extension of his Kingdom here on earth.”
Crux is specifically Catholic news and according to the Alexa rankings, it is the top Catholic news website. John Allen Jr., its editor, has been among the top Vatican reporters for the past 20 years. Crux is mainly for people who are Catholic, helping them understand what is going on in the Church and in the world. It also helps those who aren’t Catholic to understand the Catholic perspective on the world. How did Fr Schneider come to contribute to CRUX?
“It was really a long process,” Fr Schneider said. “When I was in Rome studying theology, I started writing a blog about youth ministry and about life in the seminary for Regnum Christi Live. Slowly the blog about youth ministry started becoming more about current events and news analysis, and less about youth ministry. By the fall of 2015, it was evident to both me and the youth ministry site I was writing for that we were no longer a good fit. I switched to Catholic Stand for a few months but I was always looking for new opportunities.
“I have a gift for producing quick summaries of new Church documents. I had a paragraph-by-paragraph summary of Amoris Laetitia written the day it came out, so I asked John Allen about summarizing the next Church document for his site. I wrote a summary of Luvenescit Ecclesia, on lay movements which he published, and I started sending him other articles.
“I write news analysis, commentary and opinion. Most of it has been about Pope Francis but I also write about other news, including topics like how to vote by following a Catholic conscience, and awareness of the genocide of Christians in the Middle East.
“I get inspiration from reading a lot of news and then applying all the principles I’ve learned from my Catholic faith and Legionary formation to ask what an appropriate response is. I look at what possible good perspective a priest might give on current news.
“A priest often needs to help people understand how their faith fits with the news of the day or the latest controversy. People are often confused and ask for guidance. For most priests this is a small part of their ministry and I just make it a bigger part of my ministry.”
Pope Francis has been very clear that we Catholics need to go out to evangelize in every corner of society and this includes the media. Fr Sliney and Fr Schneider are Legionary priests who have taken that charge to heart.