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Considering the gravity of much that we report every day, I always find it amazing how much our staff are still able to frequently joke, laugh, sing and pray to keep their personal lives in a healthy balance.
Tue Sep 25, 2018 - 8:19 am EST
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September 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Given the serious and often disturbing nature of many LifeSite reports, some wrongly assume that we must be a cold and humorless bunch of culture warriors. Actually, it is dramatically the opposite as revealed during our annual staff and board members’ retreat in a quiet setting in the gorgeous Virginia countryside near Front Royal this past August. 

Almost all LifeSite personnel work from their homes in the United States, Canada, Scotland, Italy, France and Mexico. We frequently remotely communicate by Skype, Go-To-Meeting, phone, email and texting. Meeting each other in person is a relatively rare situation, other than for those who live near to each other in certain regions. 

David Bereit during his presentation to the LifeSite team

Every morning a fair number of us begin our day with a brief communal prayer conference call. We have a long list of prayer intentions that are mentioned each morning. In that list are always included prayers for our donors, our board members, prayers for those who are ill, prayers for the physical safety and continued conversion of President Trump and other notable persons who are all mentioned by name. 

We pray for our enemies and for our friends. We pray for specific cardinals and bishops, for Popes Francis and Benedict (every morning without fail) and currently especially for Archbishop Vigano. We pray that each of us will be inspired in our work that day by our Guardian Angels. During fundraising campaigns, we pray special prayers for the success of the campaign throughout the duration of the campaign. 

The prayer call is immediately followed by another approximately 45-min. daily remote session with all the journalists and some of the marketing staff going over their lists of story pitches and then assignments for the day. We also have a monthly all-staff conference call to keep in touch with all the latest happenings, to make sure that we are all on the same page and to share any important news about what is happening in various staff members’ lives. There is also a once-per-month call with all of our dedicated, faith-filled board members who are also deeply committed to the LifeSite mission.

Some of the LifeSite ladies, Left to right: Diane Montagna - Rome reporter, Danielle Zuccaro - Sustaining Donor Coordinator, Maike Hickson - Journalist, Lisa Bourne - journalist, Claire Chretien - Journalist

In all these communications we maintain a healthy sense of LifeSite family. There is always woven in among the more serious discussions, a good amount of joking, laughter and making fun of ourselves. They are an exceptionally well-balanced, spiritually focused and joyful group who also take very seriously their responsibility to try to produce the world’s best news service on life, family and related culture issues (which includes a lot of Church-related reporting).

We really look forward to the annual retreat and the special opportunity it provides to spend a good amount of quality time in person with all the staff and board members. It beats the conference calls by a country mile. 

During these meetings, the serious discussions are balanced with lots of socializing opportunities, daily Mass for all the Catholics, spiritual direction constantly available from an always present priest chaplain and much laughter. We get to know just what a bunch of wonderful characters our fellow team members are. 

Maike and Lisa reacting to hilarious comment by David Bereit

Considering the gravity of much that we report every day, I always find it amazing how much our staff are still able to frequently joke, laugh, sing and pray to keep their personal lives in a healthy balance to avoid anger, excess anxiety or burnout.   

We always bring in a few special guests to the retreats to inspire, inform and affirm the team. This year we had David Bereit of previous 40 Days for Life fame charge up the group with a couple of hours of fast-paced motivational speaking. He also helped us to better analyze why we do our work and walked us through a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of LifeSite.

Stephen Mosher of the Population Research Institute, a China expert and a constant friend of LifeSite, gave us an in-depth presentation on current developments related to China and issues in those developments related to our reporting.

A noted journalist from a major on-line secular news service helped us to better understand the thinking and priorities of mainstream media organizations. 

Left to right: Calvin Freiburger - journalist, Angela Erickson - development officer, Lisa Stover - development officer, Doug Mainwaring - journalist

A special guest with many years’ experience on Catholic Church developments gave us many important insights to better guide our frequent reporting on Church-related issues.

The most important part of the annual meeting, however, is that we spend time getting to know each other better and develop our relationships. A lot of time is purposely scheduled for that socializing and time to share our experiences. Meal times are especially important in that respect.

Within the context of all the other planned activities of the retreat, the net result for LifeSite readers is a revitalized, energized and uplifted LifeSite staff that leaves the retreat all charged up again to provide you with the best news service in the world on the issues that we cover. 

As we pray for all of you every day, please also keep us all in your prayers so that we may serve you to the very best of our ability.

And during this Fall Campaign, please keep our financial needs very much in mind. Your contributions are the fuel that keeps this truth-in-news special mission going every day. 

Make a donation by clicking here.

A very happy, smiling group of truth warriors.


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