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It is said of Cardus that once you’ve worked here for a certain length of time, you never actually leave; you’re just not there at the moment.
So it is that while, officially and formally, I’ll be stepping down as editor of Convivium.ca effective Dec. 31, in reality I’ll be stepping away from the daily hub-bub but will remain part of Cardus as a Senior Fellow while I take on the full-time job of Publisher of the Catholic Register.
In many ways, the move to the Catholic Register is more of a segue to a different means of doing what Father Raymond de Souza and I intended when we co-founded Convivium under the auspices of Cardus more than a decade ago. Our objective was expressed in the tagline “Faith in Common Life” that we crafted in the prototype phase of what was variously dubbed the Cathlantic (Catholic Atlantic), First Things North, or my personal favourite, Frost Things.
We wanted to assert the truth we hold most vigorously: that faith has a proper place in the common life of Canadians, and that Canadians have faith that we do have a life in common as a country. For the first five years of its existence as well, Convivium was delivered to readers as a physical testament to Father Raymond’s conviction that the faith we hold in common is an incarnational faith. By intention, it was a print-only publication, an against-the-grain persistence in the increasingly ephemeral, digitized world of publishing.
In 2016, simple economics and the irresistibly greater efficiency of a web-based publication forced us to reconsider. We left print behind and entered the world of web-only publishing. It was the best change of course we could have made as we attracted thousands and thousands of new readers, new writers, and were able to shift to a mix of thoughtful – sometimes cerebral – opinion and much newsier coverage of faith and common life.
Throughout the changes of the past 10-plus years, the constant has been Cardus. It not only gave Convivium a roof to shelter under, it provided essential financial backing from the earliest days. In return, through the new audiences we reached, Convivium was able to help Cardus grow from its origins and deep roots in the Reformed community to cultivate a broader cohort of Canadians, Catholic, Protestant, even non-Christian, and all with an interest in engaging the interplay of faith and common life.
My own move to the Catholic Register has been made achievable by the lessons I’ve learned through Convivium about the nature of that interplay, and Cardus has been an integral element of the process. Perhaps the most important lesson, though, is the very special emphasis the think tank dedicated to exploring North American social architecture places on the “play” in interplay.
It’s an emphasis that stands on its head the popular image of think tanks as places where dour pointy heads churn out spreadsheets and populate flow charts of impermeable data. At Cardus, the credo is that if you’re not having fun, you’re not taking the work seriously enough. Fun, in Cardus-speak, is defined by stretching its corners to the horizons but was more succinctly captured by President and CEO Michael Van Pelt in the very first print issue of Convivium when he said that ideas come from the conversations people enjoy having with each other. Convivium, Van Pelt said, would be a place where people continued to come for that conversation and the ideas that flowed as a result. I’ve been privileged to have been part of that process, and even more so to know that in moving elsewhere, I’m blessed to still be part of the Cardus moment.
— Peter Stockland
An eleven-year relationship between a publisher and editor inevitably produces its own story and the colourful version of mine and Peter’s relationship will have to wait for a more appropriate place. But as will be no surprise to Convivium readers familiar with Peter’s pen-eloquence, our debates usually ended with a Stockland-zinger. Even when I wasn’t convinced, I had to concede (or chuckle) that his point was worth considering and communicated in a manner that was memorable.
Peter’s journalistic career was built around his formidable skills as a writer but fueled by his passion for truth and justice. For the past decade, Convivium has been the product and while there were many (of whom, Father de Souza as Founding Editor deserves special mention) who played an important role in Convivium’s existence, Peter has been the steady hand that has seen it through from the beginning. On behalf of all Convivium readers, let me thank Peter for his vision and service, knowing that much good has already come from this endeavour and that words last and some of those published by Convivium will have a long tail of influence into the future. We congratulate you on your appointment to the Catholic Register and are thankful that we will continue to have you as part of the Cardus family of thinkers as a Senior Fellow.
This will be the final Convivium post of 2021. Look for us in January as we continue covering current issues that reflect faith in public life. We wish all of our readers a blessed Christmas and prosperous 2022.
Convivium publishes texts that do not necessarily reflect the views held by Cardus, the Convivium team, or its editors. In the spirit of discussion, dialogue, and debate, we ask readers to bear in mind that publication does not equal endorsement. Thanks for reading. Join the conversation!
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