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A new Catholic newspaper has begun to “sow” the Good News among Hispanics throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. The Spanish-language weekly newspaper El Sembrador (“The Sower”) put out its first edition in mid-September.
“The aim of this newspaper is both to inform and to form,” explained Merrimack Regional Bishop Emilio Allué, who writes a regular column for El Sembrador. “This paper has information, but more importantly, its goal is formation in our faith.”
“We are very, very lucky to have such a paper in our archdiocese,” Bishop Allué continued. “I pray that this paper continues to thrive.”
According to Bishop Allué, the newspaper serves a community that was previously underserved. With the exception of some “very local and sporadic” Catholic radio programs in Spanish, he said, there were no other Spanish-language Catholic media outlets.
La Vida Catolica, the official Spanish-language newspaper of the archdiocese ceased publication in April 2004 due to economic difficulties. La Vida Catolica had been published monthly since February 2000.
“El Sembrador has truly filled a void,” explained Fernando Fernandez, editor of El Sembrador and former assistant editor of La Vida Catolica. “In English, there is The Pilot; there’s Catholic television; there are numerous radio programs. In Spanish, there was really nothing else.”
“We are an independent Catholic newspaper,” Fernandez said, “although we are working in collaboration with the archdiocese.”
“This is going to be a very orthodox newspaper. Fernando [Fernandez] and I are going to make sure that we only print good, sound Catholic articles,” stressed Bishop Allué.
El Sembrador is the collaborative effort of newspaper publisher Victor Gonzalez-Lemus, publisher of the secular Spanish-language newspaper Siglo 21, and Fernandez.
According to Fernandez, he and Gonzalez-Lemus began discussing plans to create a Catholic newspaper during an unrelated interview last summer. “I had the talent. He had the advertising,” he recounted. “I told him that, if he wanted, we could definitely begin a religious newspaper.”
Three months later, the newspaper made its debut in nearly four-dozen parishes throughout the archdiocese.
“El Sembrador is given to the parishes that have Spanish-language Masses free of charge,” said Fernandez.
Although the newspaper aims to provide its readers with Catholic news from the archdiocese, the nation and the world, Fernandez also pointed out that El Sembrador provides readers with nonreligious information pertinent to the immigrant population. He cited the example of a recent article explaining the benefits of obtaining a Social Security card.
Fernandez is currently El Sembrador’s only paid staff member, although, as Fernandez is quick to point out, “there are many local contributors” who write articles about individual parish activities.
“The newspaper maintains itself through advertising,” he added, noting that until the advertising increases, “Victor [Gonzalez-Lemus] is losing money.”
“In order to begin a publication, one must take a risk,” said Fernandez, adding that he is hopeful that El Sembrador will continue to thrive.
“So far, Victor [Gonzalez-Lemus] and I both have had very positive feedback,” he said.