The Catholic Northwest Progress

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The Catholic Northwest Progress
Also published as
The Progress
Dates of publication
Available online
21 December 1900 - 27 June 2013 (6101 issues)
Seattle, WA : Archdiocese of Seattle, [1994]-
Place of publication
Seattle, Wash.
Official organ of: Diocese of Seattle, June 2, 1933 - June 22, 1951; Diocese of Alaska, June 2, 1933 - June 7, 1935; Diocese of Yakima, Feb. 1, 1952 - Jan. 30, 1959; Archdiocese of Seattle, June 29, 1951 -
Usage rights
(Pre-1929) No Copyright
(Post-1928) In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted
Seattle (Wash.) - Newspapers.
Catholic Church - Washington (State) - Newspapers
Catholics - Washington (State) - Newspapers
Catholic Church. Archdiocese of Seattle (Wash.) - Newspapers.

The Catholic Northwest Progress was a weekly newspaper that ran from 1899 to 2013. The paper served as the official organ of the Archdiocese of Seattle, which currently encompasses all of Western Washington from Canada to Oregon, and from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Established in 1850 as the Diocese of Nesqually (sic) in Vancouver, Washington, the episcopal see was transferred to Seattle in 1903 under the guidance of Bishop O’Dea (1896-1932) and officially renamed the Diocese of Seattle in 1907. In 1951 the diocese was elevated to the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The paper’s origins stem from a Catholic monthly published by the Seattle Council of the Young Men’s Institute (YMI) called The Progress, which was edited by Charles Edwin Summers. In 1900 the paper became a weekly published on Fridays under the title The Catholic Progress. Although it was a private enterprise, Bishop O’Dea’s official endorsement of the paper was printed in the January 18, 1901 issue.

In 1908 The Catholic Progress merged with another paper, Catholic Northwest. The Catholic Northwest, originally titled The Washington Catholic when it was established in 1897, was founded by Martina Johnston, a schoolteacher who had supplied editorial help with The Catholic Progress from the start. After the merge, Johnston became editor of The Catholic Northwest Progress, which proclaimed in its masthead to be “The only Catholic Paper published in the State of Washington.”

In 1911 Bishop O’Dea designated The Catholic Northwest Progress as the official organ of the diocese, and at the same time the Northwest Progress Company was incorporated to operate the paper. The assignment as official organ of the diocese meant that it was a means for the archbishop to communicate official church policy. Throughout its publication, The Catholic Northwest Progress was at times the official organ of the dioceses of Yakima and Spokane in Washington State, as well as the (then) Diocese of Alaska.

The Catholic Northwest Progress was a full sized paper until the early 1980’s, when it switched to tabloid format. The title was changed to The Progress between 1982 and 1994, and then returned to The Catholic Northwest Progress till the final issue on June 27, 2013. Editorial copy made up the bulk of the paper’s content with social commentary, advice columns, comic strips, classified ads, announcements, mass times, clergy assignments, and local, national, and international news and special interest reporting. Regional editions had mostly the same content apart from the local news. Special Easter and Christmas editions were often longer with sometimes as many as four sections.

The newspaper published a diversity of Catholic views in its editorial columns and also documented changing Church policy and practice. Businesses catering to Catholic patronage bought advertising space, and regional Buyer’s Guides were regularly published as a second section. World War I articles about Catholic soldiers and chaplains presented service to our country as a religious responsibility in an effort to establish the identities of Washington Catholics as Americans and patriots, despite the fact that a large number of them were immigrants or first generation Americans. In 1924, the paper was instrumental in defeating the anti-Catholic schools Initiative 49, which was created by the Ku Klux Klan. The language in the bill was vague, mentioning only required public schooling until age 16. The Catholic Northwest Progress made it clear the results of a “yes” vote would mean private schools closing and that the KKK were behind the initiative. In 1942, when the evacuation order came to remove Japanese Americans to internment camps, the Progress spoke out in condemnation, and covered the story of Father Leo Tibesar’s accompaniment of his parishioners to the camps. The paper promoted the Open Housing Ordinance in the 1960’s and nuclear disarmament in the 1980’s. The Catholic Northwest Progress won several awards from the Catholic Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Washington Press Association.