Editor’s Note: The following is an interview with James Vogel, Editor of Angelus Press and Communications Director for the U.S. District of the Society of Saint Pius X.
Let’s start from the beginning. When was Angelus Press founded and for what purpose?
Angelus Press was founded in 1978 in Dickinson, Texas, by Fr. Carl Pulvermacher, OFM. We began as an apostolate of the Society of Saint Pius X to provide traditional Catholic literature and doctrine to Americans confused by the changes in the Church after the Second Vatican Council and the introduction of the New Mass. Although run almost entirely by volunteers, Fr. Carl Pulvermacher and his small band of faithful helpers ensured that, in the whirlwind of changes happening in the 1970’s, faithful Catholics could find reliable, traditional Catholic teaching. Shortly after this humble beginning, Archbishop Lefebvre gave us the mandate to be the official publisher of his works in English. He wanted to be sure that Americans and other English-speaking Catholics would know of his work and that of the Society of Saint Pius X.
Was Angelus Press intended to only be the publishing apostolate for the U.S. District?
The history is a bit complicated since there were technically two separate U.S. Districts at the time. Once the Districts were united to form a single U.S. District, we gradually became the publishing arm of the whole SSPX in America.
You have referred to Angelus Press as an apostolate. What do you mean by that? Because I think many think of the Press as a publishing business.
There is no doubt that there is a financial or business aspect to what we do: we have lights to keep on, websites to run, and employees to pay. But we don’t exist to make money as such; when we have, for instance, our yearly production planning meetings, the first question is never “Which books will make the most money?” The questions are: what do the priests want the faithful to have? What will help people restore all things in Christ in the modern world? And, of course, this is something that applies not just to our books, but our videos, our annual conference, and so on.
What would you identify as some of the main challenges to running and maintaining this specific apostolate of the Society of Saint Pius X?
I would say there is one “internal” and one “external.” Internally, so to speak, I don’t think most followers of the SSPX realize how Angelus Press has grown to be more than just a publishing house. Essentially, we are the communications department for the District: we publish all the newsletters, run the websites, handle e-mails and calls from priests and faithful, etc.
Externally, we are trying to find the best way to reach souls in 2018. We just finished a huge survey to see how people can be reached most efficiently: the written word? Videos? Audio products like podcasts? With limited time and resources, it’s a challenge to know how the voice of Tradition can resonate as loudly as possible.
Finally, for those out there who wish to assist Angelus Press’s apostolate, what can they do to help?
First and foremost, to pray for the apostolate. One of the most encouraging things, every week, is seeing that there are souls out there looking for the truth. When a priest calls wanting to learn the Old Mass, or someone has finally found a “safe haven” in one of our chapels, it makes everything we do worth it. With the way things are in the Church and the world, it’s easy to despair. More than most, though, we see these little signs of hope on a daily basis.
Second, perhaps, is to take a look at our website or call us to learn about some of the other apostolates we do: our prison outreach program has been growing, and we would love to do more to help the missions. As an SSPX publishing house, we try to help priests and seminarians above all.
Finally, to play the mendicant, we always have underwriting opportunities for our books, sponsorships for priests and religious who want to attend our conference, and apostolates we could expand or initiate with more funds. If there’s something dear to your heart—getting the right books to priests outside our circles or helping prisoners or our News site—we can always use help. Without the support of all of you, we would be able to do nothing.
The fact that we’re celebrating 40 years is nothing short of miraculous. On a human level, Angelus Press should have been swallowed up by the crisis in the Church or hampered by the general decline in reading. Instead, we’re growing and reaching more souls than ever. Everyone here realizes this is due to Our Lady. May she guard and assist us for another 40 years!