In December, The Interim editorial advisory board, The Interim business board and invited guests gathered for a meeting to examine the paper’s future – how to improve our product, increase our revenues and expand our circulation. One participant in this process suggested we move to a Supporters of The Interim type feature in which donors were listed on a page recognizing the friends of life. It was suggested that churches that advertise could be asked if they would be interested in having their congregations recognized here; instead of three or four pages of church ads, there would be one page recognizing Interim supporters.

As the editor, I saw numerous advantages. We would still acknowledge the support of hundreds of churches throughout the year but we would be able to put our energies not into designing church ads but improving the look of the paper each month. We could use the space where the church ads were and put in more content, thus enhancing our pro-life message. Also, we will need 24 pages less often; like many newspapers, the number of pages we have each month is based on the amount of advertising we have. We will re-invest the savings of using four fewer pages back into The Interim. This month, for instance, we doubled the amount of colour in the paper.

So, readers will notice a major change in the paper, although not until much further in. For years, we have been blessed to have the support of literally hundreds of churches, mostly Catholic parishes from Newfoundland to British Columbia. While some donated to The Interim, many purchased an advertisement and over time the “church ads” began to take up three to four pages in each issue.

We are extremely thankful for this support; the fact is, The Interim would not be around today were it not for the generosity of those churches. We are aware of this fact. So I take this opportunity to thank each and every church – every priest or pastor or church council or lay group that arranged for their congregation’s support for The Interim and I will thank two by name. We began publication in March 1983 but our first church ad did not appear until June 1986 when two Catholic parishes went out on a limb and purchased advertisements in the paper: Pastor LaFleur’s St. Catherine’s parish in Metcalfe, Ont., and the St. Rose of Lima Church in Scarboro, Ont.

The paper was able to grow as the number of churches that supported The Interim through advertising grew. As this paper’s former editor and Catholic Insight’s current editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk has estimated, in the late 1980s, one in three Catholic parishes in English Canada supported The Interim. That’s great, but it also meant that about one-fifth to one-quarter of the paper was church ads, not to mention our commercial ads.

In recent years, the cost of newsprint has escalated; our production manager became swamped as he tried to design 30-50 church ads each month; readers complained that we were “ad heavy” and that there was not enough editorial content.

With this, the May 2004 Interim, we have but a handful of church ads (but also more content than our usual 20-page papers). We are thankful for all the pastors and church councils who support The Interim and appreciate those that enthusiastically endorsed the Friends of Life for Life concept. Each month, we will feature a pro-life quote or quotes and below that a list of sponsoring churches, organizations and individuals. There are some kinks in the system to be worked out, to be sure, but we are hopeful that this will work out for our supporters and our paper. We hope that eventually, all churches will jump aboard this idea.

Of course, individuals who donate to The Interim, including those that sign up for the high five program, can be acknowledged on the Friends of Life for Life page, which can be found this month on page 13. Churches and religious organizations that want to become a Friend of Life for Life should contact our sales representatives, Marsha Hadley or Dolores Toth at (416) 204-1687. Individuals and other organizations should call Dan Di Rocco at that same number.

I look forward to the opportunities this change presents, especially in finding new kinds of stories to fit in the additional space we will have. And, as always, we appreciate your input. Let us know what you think.