Thousands of people throughout the English-speaking world trace their conversions or reconversions to the Catholic Church to two American writers who this week became contributors to The Catholic Weekly and the Archdiocese of Sydney: Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher.
The two laity are among the biggest and best-known bloggers and authors on things Catholic in the English-speaking world.
They will write primarily for The Catholic Weekly’s digital platforms and those of the archdiocese of Sydney with occasional pieces appearing in the pages of The Weekly as well. (Mark Shea’s first column is available here.)
Originally raised in a non-Christian environment, Mark Shea became an Evangelical Protestant in 1979 before converting to the Catholic faith in 1987.
He is the author of several books on Catholic history, theology and the Christian life including Mary – Mother of the Son praised by leading Catholic scripture scholar and fellow convert Scott Hahn as outstanding.
Another Shea book, Hahn said, is “the single most helpful book on Sacred Tradition written in our generation.”
Mr Shea also runs a national weekly radio show in the US broadcasting on Catholic and Christian-related topics.
Simcha Fisher, a stay-at-home mother of 10 children, turned to writing and became one of the most discussed social-media authors on Catholicism today.
She is best known for her mix of humour and an often-earthy and realistic approach to the Christian life and its daily struggles.
She currently writes for Aleteia – possibly the best online platform for Catholic writing today.
Her book The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning was described by US Catholic Newspaper Our Sunday Visitor as “An easy and lively read – funny, frank, and thoroughly grounded in Catholic theology.”
Both have become widely read commentators as a result of their prolific outputs in recent years and appear regularly in religious media including radio and television.
Catholic Weekly editor Peter Rosengren said he was delighted to acquire the services of both writers.
“When I heard that both Mark and Simcha had become available at the same time I knew we had to move quickly,” he said.
Both previously wrote for the website of the national US Catholic newspaper National Catholic Register but their questioning of the political scene in the US, particularly the penetration of US Catholicism by elements of conservative politics including the Trump Republican presidential campaign, is believed by observers to have led to their services being terminated by the paper.
“These are writers who write about the real challenges and joys of contemporary Catholic life,” Mr Rosengren said, adding that one of the things he particularly liked about both was their originality and their independent attitude towards the anti-culture of modernity.
However the pair were only the start.
“We are already looking at who else we can bring onboard The Weekly’s stable of writers, especially Australian writers, including those who can reach out to the young and ordinary men and women everywhere,” he said.
Mr Rosengren said identifying outstanding and original communicators to contribute to the print and digital platforms of the paper would help the Church reach out further and further into society to touch the lives of people everywhere.
“My colleagues and I are really looking forward to implementing this exciting new project in journalism for the Church,” he said.