It’s here! The latest development in the Archdiocese of Denver’s ongoing quest for journalistic excellence.
Today we’re launching two new dynamic websites—www.DenverCatholicRegister.org and www.ElPuebloCatolico.org—to offer you even more of the great news you’ve come to expect from us.
That said, rest assured the print edition of the Denver Catholic Register will continue to be delivered to your home each week, and our sister publication, El Pueblo Católico,will continue to be delivered to our Spanish-language subscribers monthly. Our new online editions aren’t replacing our print products; rather, they’re our way of giving you more news, faster, while expanding our reach as we better serve the Gospel on what Pope Benedict XVI dubbed “the digital continent.”
As we announce this milestone and how it advances the good news of Jesus Christ in the third millennium, we thought we’d also highlight some of the Register’s proud 113-year history.
From struggle to success
The Denver Catholic Register was born as the Denver Catholic on March 17, 1900—St. Patrick’s Day—with the cover printed in green ink in honor of the saint. That it has lasted more than a century is largely due to the dedication and vision of one of its early editors, Msgr. Matthew Smith, who led the paper from 1913-1960.
Msgr. Smith was a 22-year-old lay journalist when he took over the then-struggling newspaper, which was $4,000 in debt and had a circulation of just 2,800.
Deciding on a plan of “work and prayer,” the scrappy editor boosted circulation by turning the paper into a lively must-read publication, which under his leadership played a key role in ending the Ku Klux Klan’s power in the state in the mid-1920s.
In 1927, by now an ordained priest of four years, Msgr. Smith, convinced of the need to grow the presence of the Catholic press, bought a facility at 938 Bannock St. in central Denver equipped with presses, established a national edition—the National Catholic Register—and founded the Register System of Newspapers, which was a huge success.
At its peak in the 1950s, the Register System of Newspapers published some 35 diocesan papers and the national edition, boasting a combined weekly circulation of some 850,000.
On Dec. 6, 1954, Time magazine featured Msgr. Smith in a story headlined: “Catholic Press Lord.”
“As editor and boss of the Catholic Register, he is not only the No. 1 press lord of Catholicism,” declared Time, “but he runs the biggest and most successful chain of religious newspapers in the world.”
Our legacy and future
When Msgr. Smith died in 1960, he had headed the Denver Catholic Register for 47 years.
Eventually, changes in technology made it possible for dioceses to publish their own newspapers, which led to the sale of the Register System of Newspapers in 1969 and its building in the 1970s. The legacy of that era in our history continues in that several of the papers once published by the Register are still in existence, including the National Catholic Register.
On the Register’s 100th birthday, Father Daniel Flaherty, who served as an editor and business manager under Msgr. Smith, told the Register he was convinced it had played a key role in the beginning of diocesan newspapers.
Now, with a circulation of more than 88,000, the award-winning Denver Catholic Register is the largest subscription weekly in Colorado and has the third largest circulation in the state overall.
The Register’s sister publication, the award-winning El Pueblo Católico, started as a special section in the Register. It became a stand-alone paper in 1997.
El Pueblo boasts a growing circulation of more than 9,000, and is one of the largest Spanish-language newspapers in Colorado that delivers directly to homes. In addition, the Register and El Pueblo remain the flagship media tools used by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila to communicate with his flock.
Over the last century, the Register, and now El Pueblo, have witnessed numerous changes in the newspaper business in our service to the faithful of northern Colorado, but our goal has stayed constant: we aim to inform, inspire and engage you with the Gospel and the Catholic Church.
Just as Msgr. Smith saw the need 100 years ago to claim print media to proclaim the good news, so today the Register and El Pueblo are claiming new media for the new evangelization. The good news has never been needed more. With God’s grace and your prayerful support, we plan to boldly serve the Gospel far into the future.