A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Marist Messenger 1965 – 86

Celebrating 90 Years

The February 1965 issue of the MM farewelled Fr McGrath after 35 years. He became the ‘Editor Emeritus’, and Fr Maurice Mulcahy became the editor, assisted by Fr Barry O’Connor, while Fr Vincent Burke became the illustrations editor. The editorial committee was made up of Frs Mulcahy, O’Connor and Burke, and Miss J M Ewart and Messrs A M Kitching and J A Kelleher. The subscription was 10 shillings per year, 52 pages in length, it was reduced from A4 to A5 size,  there was colour on the covers, and authors’ photos were at the top of each article, except that there was no photo of the editor. While there were more photos, they were not shown to advantage, as quality of the paper was quite poor. From having been “New Zealand’s Catholic Devotional Monthly”, the magazine became “The National Catholic Monthly”.

For 10 years Fr Mulcahy was the National Director of the Third Order of Mary and edited the MM for for 100 issues over a period of nine years. He published thoughtful articles on historical and theological matters. As the first editor had done, he commissioned articles, sometimes receiving two on the same topic, joining pieces from one onto the other, and writing to one of the authors telling them that their article had not been accepted! He was not slow to say what he thought, and often seemed gruff and abrupt, though he probably didn’t mean to be. Joy Cowley wrote of him that he was “like a new baked loaf – all crusty on the outside, but soft and warm inside”.

Fr Maurice Mulcahy SM

Fr Maurice Mulcahy SM

Fr Barry O’Connor SM

Fr Barry O’Connor SM

Fr Vinccent Burke SM

Fr Vinccent Burke SM

The 1967 Christmas issue had a circulation of 5,300 copies.

In December 1970, the subscription rose from $1 to $1.50 per year. At the beginning of 1974, it rose to $2.

Fr Kevin Maher SM

Fr Kevin Maher SM’s first edition as editor was that of March 1974, and he was the first full-time editor. Fr Vincent Burke was Associate Editor, and Fr Barry O’Connor continued as Business Manager. The new editor wrote about Fr Mulcahy’s editorship with gratitude: “It is the simple truth that Dr Mulcahy both saved and made the ‘Messenger’; if he hadn’t generously taken on the job, with the Third Order to look after for about ten years as well, both ‘Messenger’ and Third Order would very likely be no more than nostalgic memories today. That’s the fact, in black and white, uncoloured by adulatory phrases; and that’s the principal thing one ought to remember”. His first editorial was in honour of St Joseph.

Fr John O’Neill SM meets Prime Minister Holyoake, March 1965

Fr John O’Neill SM meets Prime Minister Holyoake, March 1965

Br Hugh Peacock SM meets Pope Paul VI, July 1965

Br Hugh Peacock SM meets Pope Paul VI, July 1965

Marist Sisters in the snow on Ruapehu, Srs Aloysius and Basil (back), Mothers Geraldine and Evangelist (front), July 1966

Marist Sisters in the snow on Ruapehu, Srs Aloysius and Basil (back), Mothers Geraldine and Evangelist (front), July 1966

Newly ordained Marists, (back, left to right) Frs Michael Fitzgerald, Patrick Devlin, Bernard Carney, (front) Arthur Toothill and John Jolliffe, August 1971

Newly ordained Marists, (back, left to right) Frs Michael Fitzgerald, Patrick Devlin, Bernard Carney, (front) Arthur Toothill and John Jolliffe, August 1971

The first Tongan Bishop, Patelisio Finau SM, with Pope Paul VI, 1972

The first Tongan Bishop,
Patelisio Finau SM,
with Pope Paul VI, 1972

Michael Unverricht wrote of him, quoting the editorial of February 1979, “During his editorship the Marist Messenger was characterised by an eminently readable style. His editorials showed deep thought, scholarship and imagination”. Pat Lawlor, a well-known NZ Catholic author, said of him that he was “a grand priest, a wise man, an outstanding editor, and in his earlier days, a poet”. His poetry first appeared in the Marist Messenger in the early 1930s. He died suddenly on 15 December 1978.

The February issue in 1979 listed Fr Barry O’Connor both as acting-editor and business editor, and Fr Kevin F O’Donoghue was the illustrations editor. The subscription was now $3 a year. The March issue was in the care of an editorial board, chaired by Fr Frederick Crombie, and made up of Frs John Allardyce, Barry O’Connor, Kenneth Scully and John Weir. The business editor was Bernard Harrington.

In 1980, Fr Crombie took over as editor, Fr Charles Devonport was the business editor; the illustrations’ portfolio was held by Frs John Mori and Kevin F O’Donoghue. Subscription: $4 per year.

Fr Fred Crombie SM

Fr John Allardyce

Michael Unverrich

Michael Unverricht

The issue of May 1982 was edited by the Marist Centre, and the subscription rose to $5 per year. Under the title of ‘Prayer for the Month’, what eventually became the ‘Daily Reflections’ began, and in July of the same year, “Can You Bear It?” appeared for the first time. For the next year or so, the magazine was produced by Frs Wilfred Fitzgerald, Ronald Saunders and John Allardyce. Michael Unverricht arrived in 1983, and although the production of the magazine remained the responsibility of the Marist Centre, it was clear that one person needed to be the editor, and that was Michael. In 1984, when circulation was 3,500, the practice of promoting the magazine in parishes began, and by 1989 the print-run was 10,000.

August 1984: $6 per year.
April 1986: $8 per year.

Fr Wilf Fitzgerald SM

Fr Ronald
Saunders SM


In 1985, the MM’s records were computerised. Desktop Publishing was introduced, which resulted in much improved layout and design.

In May 1986, Michael Unverricht’s name appeared for the first time as ‘Managing Editor’, and in December there was a 14-page colour supplement celebrating Pope John Paul II’s visit to New Zealand.  

 


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