Answering Your Questions...
One of the most popular columns in St. Anthony Messenger since 1915 is “Ask a Franciscan.” It’s always been written by a friar, and has always been a pastoral outreach from the Franciscans to you. It started as “The Wise Man’s Corner,” and was akin to other magazines’ advice columns. The advice here would be of a Catholic nature, offered by a priest who could help the faithful sort out difficult personal issues and find answers to particular questions about Catholicism.
At its best, the column takes those questions and turns them into opportunities to talk more deeply about our contemporary faith. The earliest Wise Man was the new editor in 1915, Forest McGee. His first columns answered questions about topics such as eating meat on holiday-Fridays and leaving Mass early out of necessity. Those types of questions have persisted over the century. There were recurring questions about the once-scandal of a Catholic attending a Protestant service, and about intermarriage between a Catholic and a Protestant—the World Wars had drawn everyday Catholics beyond their ghettos.
In more recent years, the Wise Man was late editor Norman Perry, OFM, whom many of our readers may recall. He wrote the column, anonymously, eventually under the title “Ask the Wise Man,” for 37 years, until 1999. He was followed by our own Franciscan Editor, Patrick McCloskey, OFM, who writes the column to this day. It was Father Pat who, bringing things up to date, changed the name to our current “Ask a Franciscan” and brought the friar’s identity clearly into the public eye.
“Ask” (our shorthand) is always among our most popular pages, whether you all are reading with your own questions or just to watch Pat handle the occasional stumper. Ad multos annos!
This blog was taken from my column “Backstory.” To subscribe to St. Anthony Messenger, click here.
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