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Column Cardinal Rules (Part 26) - Running the Parish newsletter

The Not Primate of All Ireland hands over the running of the newsletter to a colleague. Hilarity, inevitably, insues.

This week I gave over the running of the parish newsletter to Fr Lawlor. I thought it might be a way of “mixing things up a little.”

Fr Lawlor calls his first editorial meeting. I can tell he is energized, because he is wearing his antique green editor’s visor which he purchased on eBay. He also insists on chewing gum and calling everyone “Mack” a lot.

He delivers a big speech about changing the face of parish newsletters as we know it in an age when print media is under threat. There is a smattering of polite applause, he fixes everyone with a determined look and says “Let’s go to work” then he turns and trips over a wastepaper basket.

Fr Daly is on Features. Fr Farrell is on the news desk and entertainment. Advertising consists of old Fr Cronin and a novelty phone shaped like Yogi Bear. The office is a veritable hive of activity.

Our first big break. Fr Farrell has secured a phone interview with Cheryl Cole about the reasons why she left US X Factor. The interview goes brilliantly. Fr Farrell is laughing and joking throughout and seems to have built up an instant rapport with her. “I know, oh, I know,” he says every two minutes. He is such an old pro.

Fr Farrell says goodbye to Cheryl Cole and hangs up. The tension in the office is electric. He looks at us all and grins: “I have no idea what she just said to me.”

Fr Lawlor brings Fr Farrell into his office. He shouts at Fr Farrell, throws some paper and a few pencils at him, and waves his framed autographed photo of Miriam O’ Callaghan at him in a threatening manner.

A chance for Fr Farrell to redeem himself. News comes in “over the wire” that Enda Kenny cries every time he sees Riverdance. Fr Lawlor starts chewing his gum in a way that would make Alex Ferguson proud. “Ring the Taoiseach’s office,” he tells Fr Farrell. “Ask them what else makes Enda Kenny cry. Maybe he doesn’t like seeing kittens in distress. Maybe there are Westlife songs that bring a tear to his eye.”

“This just in!” shouts a proud Fr Farrell. Apparently Enda Kenny once cried during a particularly distressing episode of Little House on the Prairie. He also once woke up very distraught from a dream about a Fine Gael without Phil Hogan.

“Print the legend,” says Fr Lawlor. “You mean the fact,” says Fr Farrell. “I know what I mean,” says Fr Lawlor. “Did you just say ‘print the legend’ because it sounds cool?” asks Fr Farrell. “Yes, yes I did,” says an embarrassed Fr Lawlor while looking at the ground.

Disaster. We have no advertising. Apparently Fr Cronin has spent the morning pressing a button and listening to Yogi Bear saying “I’m smarter than the average bear, Boo Boo” while attempting to speak through the earpiece (Yogi Bear’s bottom).

Fr Daly secures advertising from his cousin who wants to sell a tractor on the proviso that he gets a full page. “In an era when advertising revenues are being squeezed we have no choice,” sighs Fr Lawlor.

Fr Cronin is asked to see if he can get a photo of Enda Kenny crying.

Deadline fast approaching. Fr Cronin has photo-shopped an image of Enda Kenny. His attempts at photo-shopping consist of him drawing glasses and a moustache on Mr Kenny with biro. Fr Lawlor delivers a thundering speech on “journalistic ethics” then asks Fr Farrell to run the photo.

The “Priest of the Week” feature is scrapped, and Fr O’ Reilly is now pushed to the death notices.

“Priest of the Week” is replaced with a human interest story about Mrs Mulligan’s lost parrot.

The newsletter is “put to bed.” Fr Lawlor asks everyone to give themselves a big round of applause.

A phone call comes in telling us that Mrs Mulligan’s parrot has been found. Fr Lawlor glares at everybody, almost challenging someone to say the words “Print media is dead, and news aggregation is the way to go.”

Later that day he gets a call asking him to be the 45th presenter on Newstalk’s Breakfast show.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady
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