Happy World Communications Day!

Pope and Communications


Of course, the most important fact about this day is that it is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, including my own mom in heaven and my wonderful wife Eileen, who is the world’s best mom to our outstanding daughter, for whom we’re lobbying to establish a tradition called Daughter’s Day.

But I want to wish all of you a Happy World Communications Day. This day of remembrance and edification was established 52 years ago by the Catholic Church during Vatican Council II. Its existence on the Sunday before Pentecost every year–and the tradition of annual papal message that accompanies it –are statements of the importance the Church gives to varied means and media of cultural expression.

This year’s message from Pope Francis found special resonance with me because it speaks from his heart about the need to renew the communication of news and the conversations of trust and common cause so necessary for our society’s future. I thought it was a great touch that the message ended with the Pope’s own paraphrase of, or sequel to, the beloved “Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.” I decided to reflect in a structured way on this “Peace Prayer version 2.0,” and my thoughts grew into a book I am preparing to share with a larger audience. The book’s working title is Headlines That Hurt: Do We Have a Prayer?  The Pope’s Words of Hope for Journalism. 

As my World Communications Day gift to all of the good folks whom I welcome as readers of my OnWord blog and as my connections on LinkedIn, I offer a preview of the book. Please go this site’s navbar and click on “Headlines That Hurt.”  Please take a look at the (copyright-protected) thoughts and send me your feedback at billgerards@gmail.com. Perhaps you’ll also consider doing those “friend” and “like” and “follow” and “connect” favors to help me market the finalized book.

When Headlines That Hurt comes out later this month, probably first as an e-book, please consider buying it. I’ll welcome your support if indeed you think, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, my reflections can help give birth to big-picture, faith-and-reason-based discussions about a renewal of journalism, words, conversation, truthfulness and trust in our society. When you click for the preview, don’t worry about this book being too heady or ambitious. As the accompanying photo suggests, I’m striving for a sense of Franciscan joy and keeping it light-hearted. pope-and-tv-1-2-fromonword (2)

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Mary Schmitt’s Award for Community Spirit

mary and me april 18

Mary Schmitt, our daughter who is studying business at The Catholic University of America, received an award at CUA’s 2018 Cardinal Leadership Celebration dinner on April 18. What a great time I had applauding her accomplishment and meeting many of her fellow students and friends, who are grateful for her spirited contributions to campus life!

Please go to my Facebook page at wgschmitt and see the video I made of the award presentation. She received the Martha Comiskey Memorial Award in recognition of her “devotion to the University, ability and willingness to motivate [her] fellow students and unwavering commitment to the University’s goals.” My favorite part of the remarks made by Office of Campus Activities assistant director Emily Scanlon: “Everybody needs a Schmitty in their life.”

Eileen and I are so glad to have that Schmitty in our life! Mary inspires me with her ability to reflect, and contribute to, the best spirit of communities where all-around excellence is pursued for the sake of the individual, God and others. As she accepted the award, my mind flashed back to earlier days of her sharing this blessing. As a graduate of St. Joseph Grade School in South Bend, she received the Fanelli Award recognizing the gift. I knew good things were in store.

When you check out my social media to share in my joy, please consider following me on Facebook. I’m trying to do things–media outreach consulting, freelance writing, radio and podcast hosting, public speaking and lots of musical performances–that communicate my gratitude to God and wonderful friends! Please also check out the mary.schmitt.94 page on Facebook and Mary’s LinkedIn profile (maryschmitt19) too! That profile is her next step toward encountering new communities and making them even better by her presence.

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Moms, a Mission & an Alabama Anchor

Thanks to Devon Walsh, award-winning anchor for WKRG TV in Mobile, Alabama. I appreciated your receptivity to the story of hope that my colleagues and I with the Good Counsel network of maternity homes figured you would want to tell!

I invite all my friends to take a look at this uplifting report Ms. Walsh, a University of Notre Dame graduate, recently produced for her viewers throughout the region stretching from Mobile to the Florida panhandle.

The home, called Good Counsel Mary’s Shelter Gulf Coast, is the only place of its kind in the region where expectant moms who have been homeless–and too often victims of domestic violence or drug abuse–can take up residence and prepare not only for childbirth but for a career. Thanks to lots of people standing by to help as part of a welcoming community with other moms and kids, this home can be their turning point toward a sustainable, independent family life after a baby has come along.

It’s my privilege to help spread the word about Good Counsel’s long-standing mission to media folks and others. Good Counsel was co-founded many years ago by my friend from Long Island, Christopher Bell. Keep up the great work of meeting these needs, Chris. And, Devon, it was a pleasure reaching out to you, and we’re grateful for your news reporting that’s bound to help lots of other families.

I invite you to learn more about the Chris Bell’s organization at goodcounselhomes.org. May women in need, especially those in the Diocese of Mobile and the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, continue to receive help and hope from skilled and caring folks who believe that where there’s life, there’s hope.

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You’ve Got to Hear–and Savor–This Song

You’ve got to hear this great new Christian worship song … an anthem of trust in God ‘s abundant mercy, making its national TV debut on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday. (Huckabee might not have known that detail.) .

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Thanks, Ken Hallenius & Facebook Live

hallenius facebook     Thank you, Ken Hallenius, for mentioning me in your Facebook Live video this evening!

Friends, please visit wgschmitt on Facebook to see this latest broadcast by Ken, a great gentleman, scholar and source of abundant insights you can find on the radio, in podcasts, on websites and more.

In Point #4 of Ken’s report on the joy of media–and the media of joy–you’ll hear his kind and generous comments regarding the podcast he and I have produced. It’s called “EncounterPoints.” See the previous post on this blog to find out more about this project that brought us much joy. Give it a try. We hope it will edify you and others on the subject of evangelization.



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Oh My Podcast! We’re E-vangelizing!



Today brings the debut of a podcast whose development has been a highlight of my communications career. Please check out the first episode in the initial nine-part series, titled “Got Joy?” Before you do that, let me thank my podcasting partner par excellence, Ken Hallenius. He’s an experienced, perspicacious and joyful co-host, and he also created the logo you see above.

The podcast is called EncounterPoints, and my point here is to recommend that you consider developing a podcast yourself, especially if it brings about encounters with good folks like Ken who see communications as a kind of vocation, a chance to apply one’s talents to do good in the world. Or at least consider browsing around the world of podcasts for topics and ideas that can make a positive difference in your own world.

You’ll hear Ken and me sharing a mix of scholarly and sprightly banter about topics related to the idea of evangelization–helping to spread good news based in faith and reason that we hope will contribute to the common good in American society. If you listen to several of the weekly episodes that will be appearing at EncounterPoints.com,

I hope you’ll conclude that we’re casting–or podcasting–a wide net that ponders various aspects of constructive communication and everyday conversation while avoiding any trace of proselytizing. We’re just expressing some of the values that made us who we are — while also unleashing the similar senses of humor that made us think, “We’ve gotta give this a try.” Your comments are welcome!


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Proposing a Toast to Toastmasters


Give some thought to joining your local Toastmasters International club. Toastmasters is one of those great organizations where professional development, personal enrichment, fellowship and fun intersect. Its 16,400 clubs in 141 countries stand as reminders of the importance of good communication among all people–on the global, national, regional and local levels.

Do you wonder sometimes where folks from all walks of life and backgrounds can go to converse comfortably and effectively with each other? Can we still build communities of face-to-face discussion of diverse ideas, on a panoply of topics, in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere where there are still rules respecting personal dignity, propriety, group effectiveness, clarity, conciseness and the validity and vitality of words?

Toastmasters continues to nurture this miraculous mix. I happily can vouch for the organization, with more than six months of membership in a local South Bend branch called the Tuesday Night Toastmasters Club and my recent introduction to the broader organization through a multi-club speaking competition for “Area 12” in northwest Indiana. So far, I’ve presented four of the ten talks that constitute every member’s initial journey toward competence as a public speaker at the local club level. I volunteered to do an additional talk in the “tall tale” category, and my club entered me in the related area-wide challenge. There, I found further proof that Toastmasters attracts a great group of people who value oral communication because they value the solidarity and hope it nurtures.

Members also value the fact that each speech they deliver sharpens their skills and self-confidence in sharing insights, making them better contributors to the public discourse rather than mere spectators or passive consumers of information. However, we also do strive to become better consumers; the majority of our time in any meeting is spent listening to others in a structured, interactive way. Indeed, we critique each other’s presentations so we pay attention, we cultivate constructive dialogue and we affirm each other on a shared mission.

You can see our Tuesday Night Toastmasters Club facebook page and check out Toastmasters International. My thanks go to my local mentors who are pictured above,  flanking me as the second-place winner and Damon Jones, from the TLC ToastMasters Ivy Tech club in Gary, IN. He earned his first-place honors with style. My South Bend colleagues are long-time members Dennis Njuguna, our club’s vice president for education (at left), and Bart Timm, club president and a regional leader  (at right). Thanks to fellow member–actually, Fellow Toastmaster, as we call ourselves–Tyson Smith, who took the photo above at the Saint Joseph County Public Library on February 26. As they say, please Like us on Facebook! And visit one of our Tuesday evening meetings to become just as encouraged as I have been.

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