The educational mission of Catholic publishing in the 21st century: A phenomenological study

Karen Forbes Scialabba, Fordham University


The Educational Mission of Catholic Publishing in the 21 st Century is a phenomenological study that relies on in-depth interviews with editors to examine what "educational mission" means to Catholic publishers in the year 2006; a time profoundly affected by advances in communication and technology and a time dominated by the shifting perspectives formed by and through media. With six editors as representative of the overall goals, intentions, and aspirations of Catholic publishers, this study examines some of the contexts in which the organization's educational mission and its corresponding business concerns in the American marketplace "cross-pollinate." To address this phenomenon, the major research question of this study is, "What is the educational mission of Catholic publishing in a 21 st Century context?" Discussions with participants were guided by the following five sub-questions: (1) what is the organizational mission of the Catholic publishing organization? (2) How do editors perceive their educational mission? (3) How do editors relate to the institutional Church and its teaching constituency? (4) How do editors deal with censorship and approval? (5) How do "bottom line" financial factors influence editorial decisions? Interviews revealed that a publishing mission is not a catechism but is, rather, a phenomenon of understanding built over time, book by book, as editors interpret the impact of a manuscript's meaning and consequences on their organization's reputation, history and belief structure; their organization's strategic intent; the business and management culture of their organization; the present economic situation of their organization; and their own sense of religious and popular agency. In helping the public translate and make sense of the Church as events unfold before them, Catholic publishers prioritize learning over instruction and make their best impact when they are market savvy, mission-centered, and rooted in the shifting consciousness represented by and through media. Therefore, in the final analysis, this study concludes that the educational mission of Catholic publishing is to draw learners into a community of free dialogue and open participation of religious understanding that holds all of the authenticity of the Roman Catholic religious experience but with goals distinctive from Roman Catholic religious instruction.

Subject Area

Religious education|Mass media|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Scialabba, Karen Forbes, "The educational mission of Catholic publishing in the 21st century: A phenomenological study" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3255880.