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Joe Feuerherd appointed new NCR publisher

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Joe Feuerherd, who has filled a variety of roles at National Catholic Reporter during the past 24 years, ranging from intern to Washington correspondent, has been appointed NCR publisher and editor in chief.

The appointment was announced Sept. 15 by Patrick Waide Jr., chairman of the NCR board of directors. Feuerherd succeeds Sr. Rita Larivee, who was elected in August as general superior of her religious order, the Sisters of St. Anne. Larivee has been publisher for four years. Prior to that, she was associate publisher for seven years.

“The board is pleased to have attracted to the publisher position an experienced journalist who is well versed in the publishing options available today via the Internet,” said Waide in making the announcement. “We are also impressed with Joe’s strong commitment throughout his adult life to peace and justice issues, as well as to the documents and spirit of Vatican II.”

The position includes publishing oversight of Celebration, a comprehensive worship resource that appears monthly, as well as the growing array of electronic options for gathering and delivering the news.

“I’m thrilled that the NCR board has selected me as the next publisher and editor in chief and both humbled and energized by the opportunity to lead a publication that is vital to American Catholics who love their church,” said Feuerherd, whose duties begin Oct. 1.

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He and his wife, Rebecca, will relocate from Maryland to Kansas City, Mo., where NCR is headquartered. The couple has three grown children, Zachary, Bridget and Benjamin.

Of her successor, Larivee said she was “exceptionally pleased with Joe’s experience and commitment to independent journalism at the service of the church and confident in his ability to continue the organization’s commitment to justice, respect for human rights, and the life of the church in the world. He is the eighth publisher of NCR to continue the legacy of the founders — an orientation toward reporting the news, toward enterprise and relevance, toward dialogue with practically everybody. We are a religious paper with worldly interests. We are committed to the church and secure enough in our commitment to keep wondering what the church is and will become.”

The 45-year-old Feuerherd first came to NCR in 1984 when he showed up, as a junior at the Catholic University of America, from which he graduated with a degree in history. As a college intern, he said, “I made the coffee, sorted mail, answered phones, clipped newspapers and grabbed whatever reporting assignments I could finagle.”

He apparently impressed enough people to wind up with the title political affairs reporter during his senior year at Catholic University.

Feuerherd would leave and return several times over the next two decades. Between positions at NCR he served as a congressional press secretary and legislative assistant and editor of the weekly Economic Opportunity Report.

He returned to NCR from 1988 to 1991 as Washington bureau chief.

He served as public affairs officer at the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission from 1991 to 1997 and editorial director and associate publisher at United Communications Group from 1998 to 2002 before returning to NCR as Washington correspondent from 2002 to 2007.

During that period he produced distinguished reporting on a variety of fronts, particularly in the area of financial accountability in the church. He was the first to break the news that the Detroit archdiocese had provided gifts and loans of nearly $40 million to the troubled John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. He also reported on other investments undertaken by the archdiocese, including renovation of a former seminary property into a luxury resort.

Feuerherd was the first to report in March 2006 on the scheme advanced by Raffaello Follieri to purchase abandoned church property in the United States for redevelopment. Follieri claimed high Vatican connections. He has been in the news lately as his scheme collapsed and he ended up pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy, money laundering and fraud.

Feuerherd, on his appointment as publisher, commented, “Forty-plus years ago a group of spirited and entrepreneurial journalists decided that both the church and the broader culture would be served by a publication that told the story of Catholics in this country — an independent newspaper that provided, to the extent possible, the facts and the truth about the institution and its people. They were right then — and that mission is even more important today.”

Feuerherd can be reached at jfeuerherd@ncronline.org.

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