On Writing for a Catholic Newspaper

SJU Writing Studies student Kevin Pitts talks with Pete Sanchez.






Peter “Pete” Sanchez (06’) is a Staff Writer and Social Media Coordinator at The Catholic Star Herald. In 2017 he launched the podcast Talking Catholic, which interviews Catholics leaders in the Diocese of Camden.

Since I’m interested in Catholicism and writing, I decided to talk to Pete about his work:

Kevin: You said you viewed telling other people’s stories as a “calling.” What did you mean?

Pete: I truly believe God has given everyone gifts, and I am thankful that he has given me the gift of being able to share other people’s stories through writing, about how God is working in their lives, be it in their parish, school, home, or community.  It’s a calling that I feel I should use this gift, to not only give God glory, but make known his goodness.  God has blessed me with the ability to write, and I have a responsibility to build up His kingdom here.

Kevin: The Talking Catholic podcast has a segment called “Talking Saints,” which simply tells stories from the lives of Catholic saints. Why do you do this?

Pete: My entire life, it seems, I’ve been inspired by the lives of the saints – Augustine, John Paul II, Teresa of Calcutta, to name a few. Their time here on Earth is a blueprint for how all of us should live out our daily lives. At the beginning of every show, my co-host, Laurie Power and I start off with a quote from Pope Francis: “To be a Saint is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.”  We began this monthly program not just to show saints’ holiness, but their humanity and struggles; none of them were perfect.  God’s love and grace, however, transformed these men and women into models we can follow. They demonstrate that sainthood is possible for all of us.

Kevin: The Herald‘s intended audience is Catholics in the Diocese of Camden, which includes priests and laypeople of various ethnicities and levels of involvement. Writing for such a range of people, does your audience ever surprise you?

Pete: Honestly, I’m always surprised when I hear from my editor that one of my stories was picked up and shared by a national Catholic publication. It doesn’t happen often. On most days, I view my audience as the Catholic Community of South Jersey.  When I hear that one of my stories was read by someone in another state, it’s surprising and humbling. When it happens, it just reinforces the responsibility I have in my profession, as a Catholic who happens to be a journalist, to tell the truth.

Kevin: Is there a patron saint of newspapers for the Herald? Or have you chosen your own patron saint of newspapers, or writing in general?

Pete: In my office, I have artwork of Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers and the Catholic press. In the 16th and 17th centuries, as a priest in Geneva, Switzerland, he would share the faith by writing it down and slipping it under people’s doors. I’m trying to do the same; get the Gospel message out to as many as possible.

You can find Pete’s work at the links below:


Talking Saints


Fall 2020 Writing Studies Course Offerings

Fall 2020 Writing Studies Course Schedule

(Photo: Howard Dinin)

ENG 560: Rhetoric Then and Now (Core Course)

CRN 42049

Mondays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Dr. Melissa Goldthwaite

How do writers use rhetoric? How do we balance attention to genre, purpose, audience, context, and our own sense of style? In Rhetoric Then and Now, we will consider these and other questions, exploring rhetoric’s classical origins and studying the work of 20th and 21st century rhetorical theorists in order to understand how rhetorical concerns shape our own writing practices. This course will be discussion-based and include a workshop component. Students will write a series of response papers and conduct a semester-long project exploring the relevance of rhetorical theory to their own writing or area of interest. (Core Course)

ENG 614: Road to Revolution in the 1960’s (Area I)

CRN 42050

Tuesdays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Dr. Owen Gilman

A study of the American cultural scene during the 1960s with particular focus on the contribution of writers as agents of change in movements to break existing stereotypes and to challenge racial discrimination, gender discrimination, sexual repression, environmental degradation, and war. Writers may include: Jack Kerouac, Harper Lee, Rachel Carson, Nikki Giovanni, Eldridge Cleaver, Dee Brown, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, Betty Freidan, and some Beat poets. Films were also consequential both in propelling and in reflecting revolutionary changes in American life through the 1960s. Several key films that may be considered include In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, and Easy Rider. (Area I)

ENG 670: Fiction Writing Workshop (Area III)

CRN 42051

Thursdays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Professor Tenaya Darlington

This class is designed to make you a better fiction writer – to teach you about the craft, to give you a space in which to explore your voice, and to push you beyond the familiar. There is also a workshop component, which will give you the chance to receive feedback from the group about your work. You’ll write hard, read widely, and learn stylistic devices that can be used in many areas of your writing. This is a portfolio-based class; you’ll write two major short stories and revise them for final submission at the end of the term.

Registration begins March 30, 2020.