Erlandson leaves OSV after nearly 27 years

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WASHINGTON - Saying he has "learned ... seen so much," Greg Erlandson is stepping down from his position as publisher at Our Sunday Visitor Inc., after nearly 27 years with the company.

His last day on the job was to be Jan. 31.

Erlandson told Catholic News Service that he was proud of efforts to raise the profile of the weekly newspaper and its associated publications and services in parishes around the country.

"It turned out to be a great gift," he said of his years with the Huntington, Indiana-based company.

"I'm resigning to pursue other opportunities. I still have a daughter who is going to start college in the fall so I have got to find work," he said.

The longtime Catholic press journalist said he will most miss his colleagues.

"We built up a great staff. It's a profound sadness that I won't be working so closely with them," he told CNS Jan. 29 from a train platform on New York's Long Island, while on his way to a presentation on the Year of Mercy in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Msgr. Owen Campion, associate publisher at Our Sunday Visitor, said his colleague's work in the Catholic press and dedication to the work of the church was shaped by the turmoil during the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.

"We're both affected by the same generation, the turbulent time and the national discord," Msgr. Campion said. "Although he was in California and I was in Tennessee, it served to put us on the same track with regard to human dignity and with regard to obligations to the disadvantaged and the persecuted abroad."

The two worked across the hall from each other at OSV headquarters and shared ideas to improve the firm's product lines while boosting Catholic communications, he said.

"He's very inspiring. ... He knows also the value of the church in an inspirational way and working with people to bring them together, to give them something to hope for and to live for," Msgr. Campion told CNS.

OSV editor Gretchen Crowe, writing on the newspaper's website Jan. 26, said her colleague's love of the church and desire to "bring the church to the people and people to the church" drives his career.

Crowe credited Erlandson for utilizing the newspaper to unify the church by inspiring dialogue among people with conflicting points of view. "He has brought common sense and a measured voice to debates on both religious and secular issues," she wrote. "He has been unafraid to challenge and to stand up for the truth when necessary but always was done so with respect," giving "Catholics a model for moving forward in a divided landscape."

Working with Erlandson as chairman of OSV's board of directors, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, credited the longtime publisher for expanding the line of offerings for parishes.

In addition, Erlandson is a lay leader in the diocese, assisting with evangelization and catechetical efforts, the bishops said.

"He's very committed to the importance of the Latino presence in the church now and in the future," Bishop Rhoades added. "He's done a lot in the publishing area to promote that."

Hired originally as editor of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper in 1989, Erlandson became editor-in-chief overseeing the book and periodical editorial departments and the design department. In 2000 he was named president and publisher.

"What attracted me (in 1989), Bob Lockwood was the publisher," Erlandson said. "I really liked him and I really liked the idea of working for a company that had multifaceted operations. It was all about journalism, but I liked the idea of learning about books and magazines and I was coming to a place that was a lot bigger."

Over the years, Erlandson also assumed an active role as an advocate for the Catholic press. He served as president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada from 2011 to 2013 and continued on the organization's board after his term.

Matthew Schiller, advertising/business manager at Catholic New York, newspaper of the New York Archdiocese and CPA president, told CNS Erlandson has been a valuable adviser during his time heading the association.

"One of the assets the CPA president has is relying on the knowledge and wisdom of the past presidents. He has always shared his insight and tremendous amount of wisdom," Schiller said of his colleague.

"Greg brings a patience and balance," Schiller said. "He's a man of deep faith. He has excellent knowledge of the church."

Schiller noted that Erlandson received the CPA's St. Francis de Sales Award at the 2015 Catholic Media Conference in June, calling it a "great thing."

"He embodies what that award means," Schiller explained. "It's not longevity. It's not surviving. It's do you have the spirit of St. Francis de Sales? It's communicating the faith to the people. It's how you write about the faith. It's you living the faith."

In addition to his work at OSV, Erlandson is an adviser for the Committee on Communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has been a consultant for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and completed a stint in 2015 on a committee working to reform the Vatican's communications arm. He also serves on the advisory board of the Our Sunday Visitor Institute. Early in his career he was editor of the National Catholic Register. From 1986 to 1989 he worked for CNS in its Rome bureau.

Schiller said Erlandson has left a positive mark on the church and the Catholic communications profession.

"When I heard the news (of Erlandson's departure), I said, 'This is a real loss for the Catholic Church. We have to find a way to keep him involved in the Catholic press,'" he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016