" What happens to the older generation that are not technology savvy?

" Lin Gagner, business manager of St. Helen Parish in Sweet Home
SWEET HOME — “I grew up with the Catholic Sentinel!” was the cry that echoed across St. Helen Parish in Sweet Home and Holy Trinity Mission in Brownsville upon hearing that the Catholic Sentinel would cease publication Oct. 1.

Parishioners were eager to share their memories of the newspaper that has bolstered their faith and kept them informed about Catholic news and events near and far. St. Helen’s parishioner Gert Helvey recalls her first memory of the Catholic Sentinel in 1956, when she arrived in western Oregon from Holland with her parents and four sisters. Only seven years old, she describes herself as “one of five little Dutch girls” who spoke no English, but who, like their parents, were eager to learn the language and the culture of their new country. Since the Catholic Sentinel was always in their home, it became part of the family’s learning experience. “Mom and Dad read it,” Helvey says. “It was the only publication they had in the house besides the regular newspaper.”

The memories of Father Fred Anthony, pastor of St. Helen and Holy Trinity, go back even further. He shares a story from his mother Kathryn, 95, about what the Catholic Sentinel has meant to their family over the years: “My mother said that when she was growing up, the Catholic Sentinel was the main newspaper that they would get. Her father was born back in 1880-something, and he went to minor seminary at Mount Angel, along with his brothers, and they got used to getting ‘the news that was the news,’ and not something political. They just really treasured the Catholic Sentinel. And then my mom grew up with it, all the way through grade school, high school, college. She’s loved getting it all these years. It’s the only paper she reads.”

Helvey has enjoyed reading about the fruits of faith in parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Portland. “This one does this; this one does that — they have all these arms reaching out in ministry.” Father Anthony agrees, explaining that reading about something as simple as “a bake sale in Coquille” could sometimes inspire him with ideas for evangelization in smaller communities.

St. Helen and Holy Trinity have been featured in several Catholic Sentinel articles over the years, and Helvey has been a proud contributor. She says her articles were important for her to write, and she is grateful to the Catholic Sentinel for “152 years of giving us a voice.”

Father Anthony says that it’s hard to grasp that such a popular newspaper with a huge readership will stop coming to the faithful. He says his mother will miss reading Catholic news that she can hold in her hands and see the entire story in front of her.

Along with many of his parishioners, Father Anthony expresses concern for the elderly, who, because they cannot manage a computer, will no longer have a way to receive Catholic news. St. Helen’s business manager Lin Gagner, who says she has enjoyed the many years of Catholic Sentinel publication, poses the question that many are asking: “What happens to the older generation that are not technology savvy?” She worries that these people will lose touch with the church.

Thinking about the Catholic Sentinel, Rose McVeigh of Holy Trinity Mission muses: “Reading the Sentinel was always informative and spiritually rewarding. It has been a good connection to other parishes throughout the diocese.”

Along with missing local, national and international Catholic news, Helvey heaves a sigh of regret at saying goodbye to the sense of “a unifying stability that we belong to something bigger.”

Father Anthony sums it up simply: “Yeah, I’m going to miss it.”