Father John Catoir

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Father John Catoir, president and founder of St. Jude Media Ministry and a former director of The Christophers, died April 7 in Cary, N.C. He was 90.

A retired priest of the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., he resided in North Carolina for the last several years.

The priest would often recall a 1980 meeting with St. John Paul II, who he said asked him to become “a messenger of joy.”

In 1995, Father Catoir founded St. Jude Media Ministry to provide “uplifting messages of joy to those most in need through all forms of media.”

The ministry began with national radio spots produced and distributed throughout the country and has expanded to a worldwide outreach via video and social media.

Father Catoir began the ministry after his tenure as director of The Christophers, a Manhattan-based organization that uses print and broadcast media to further the Judeo-Christian concept of service to God and humanity. He hosted the nationally syndicated weekly television series “Christopher Closeup,” for 17 years.

The early years of St. Jude Media Ministry were spent recording audio messages in a small New York City studio. The tapes were sent to national radio stations where late night airtime was purchased. Father Catoir then began utilizing social media, first Facebook and then Twitter, posting more than 20,000 messages of hope and joy.

He served as president of three organizations: National Association of Church Personnel Administrators, 1975-1977; Association of Catholic TV and Radio Syndicators, 1983-1985; and the Catholic Press Association, 1988-1990.

In 1993, he received the CPA’s St. Francis de Sales Award for outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism. Named for the patron saint of writers and journalists, the award recognizes “outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism” and is the highest honor given by the association, now called the Catholic Media Association.

Rob DeFrancesco, CMA’s executive director, in a statement, said: “I am grateful to God for Father John Catoir, who dedicated his life to inviting people to come to know and love Jesus Christ through Catholic media. His joy and enthusiasm for sharing the good news is an inspiration for members of the Catholic Media Association.”

The CMA annually presents the Father John Catoir Social Media Evangelization Award.

He wrote more than a dozen books including the bestsellers “Joy,” “A Simple Guide to Happiness,” “Enjoy The Lord,” “Enjoy Your Precious Life,” “World Religions: Beliefs Behind Today’s Headlines” and “God Delights in You: An Introduction to Gospel Spirituality.”

For many years he wrote a regular column for Catholic News Service that was published in Catholic New York.

Born and raised in New York City, he graduated from the Fordham University School of Business. After two years in the U.S. Army, he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, N.J.

After his ordination in 1960, he studied at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he received his doctorate in canon law.

He served his diocese in the marriage tribunal and later as pastor of Our Lady of Victories parish in Paterson.

A Funeral Mass for Father Catoir was celebrated April 11 at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cary. Burial was at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church Cemetery in Newton Grove, N.C. —CNS