How Catholic Digest was born

By Edward A. Harrigan

It started with three priests,
a basement steam plant,
and a dream

In 1941, five years after Catholic Digest was founded, Digest assistant editor Edward Harrigan wrote about the magazines beginnings ...

"How would you like to work for me, Nick?"

Father Gales was speaking to the boy who was driving his car that afternoon, Nick Tschida. Nick, one of his young parishioners, thought it would be great. From that time on, he strove mightily for Father Louis A. Gales, then assistant at St. Agnes 'Church, in St. Paul, Minnesota, taking dictation, typing letters, running errands - doing the thousand and one tasks that must be done for a priest who is getting ready to put out the first issue of a new magazine.

All through the summer of 1936, Father Gales worked hard fulfilling his duties as assistant in a large and active parish (and he's one who would see to it that none of them be neglected), all the while preparing for the launching of Catholic Digest, and in addition seeing to the smooth functioning of his Catechetical Guild, which supplies Catholic teachers with educational material and publishes books and pamphlets.

The initial surveys made, the necessary cooperation of other magazines obtained, a small but promising list of charter subscribers secured, Father Gales decided the venture was too great for one man. Curiously, but characteristically, he didn't worry about financing; his chief concern was to find competent associates. He found them in the persons of two other St. Paul priests, Father Paul Bussard and Father Edward F. Jenninings then the publishers of the Leaflet Missal. Father Bussard became Digest editor, Father Jennings, business manager, and Father Gales, managing editor.

All three are products of the St. Paul Seminary; none are beyond early middle age; all are energetic in the cause of the faith. Father Gales is chaplain of the City Hospital, a I,000-bed institution. When it is considered that Catholics constitute something like half of the city's total population, it can be realized that the chaplaincy of this hospital is no light nor negligible task. Beside