Skip to content

‘It makes you feel more united’ – The man who named ‘The Western Kentucky Catholic’ looks back on 35 years of his diocese’s paper

On Dec. 12, 2019, Sandy and Robert “Bob” Devine look through a copy of the first issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic, dated January 1985, which they have kept. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC


Thirty-five years after giving The Western Kentucky Catholic its name in 1985, Robert “Bob” Devine has kept up with the diocesan newspaper, and says “it’s really been good.”

The year was 1984 and Devine was 35 years old when he learned that the Diocese of Owensboro was holding a contest to name its new newspaper.

Robert “Bob” Devine in 1984, when he named The Western Kentucky Catholic. ARCHIVES PHOTO

“We need a name. The name has to catch attention and has to say something about whose paper this is. The paper is the voice of the Bishop and all the Catholics in the Western Kentucky area,” read the message printed in the October 1984 newsletter of the Diocese of Owensboro.

At the time, the eight-page newsletter (begun by Bishop Henry J. Soenneker in 1974) was the only way Bishop John J. McRaith could communicate about events and activities to the people of his diocese.

But Bishop McRaith – and editor at the time, Mel Howard – knew that the diocese needed a larger publication to cover and report on all that was happening in the sprawling Kentucky diocese.

Since the paper was truly meant to represent every person of the diocese, Howard decided to ask readers for their input in naming the newspaper.

“The winner will receive $25, his or her picture in this paper and a smorgasbord dinner at the Executive Inn with Bishop McRaith,” Howard wrote. “Every suggestion will be considered. The final decision will be made by the staff at the Pastoral Center after much prayer and thought about what our diocese’s paper should be called.”

Howard added that, “if you’ve been thinking about a dandy name for a paper but just never could find one to listen to you, this chance is for you.”

Devine, a member of Precious Blood Parish in Owensboro, gave this some thought.

“Well, we’re in western Kentucky and we’re all Catholic,” Devine told the WKC in a Dec. 12, 2019 interview. “I tried to cover the criteria they were asking.”

Devine ended up submitting multiple options, one of which was “The Western Kentucky Catholic.”

On Dec. 12, 2019, Robert “Bob” Devine holds the January 1985 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic open to the article about his winning the newspaper name contest. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC

The staff of the Pastoral Center voted, and the name was chosen.

When Devine found out he had won, “It was neat,” he said. He and his wife, Sandy, went to dinner with the bishop – and though Sandy Devine said she was “a nervous wreck,” their conversation ended up being “casual talk.”

Devine said he does not recall all that they talked about at dinner, but he does remember Bishop McRaith clearly being “just one of us,” and wanting to keep people involved and sharing input for the young newspaper.

On page 3 of the inaugural issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic – January 1985 – Howard wrote in an article titled “We Are WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLICS” that 235 suggestions had been submitted.

He said the Pastoral Center staff had helped him narrow down the list to those which “told clearly the geographical location of the paper and the name of the people whose paper this is,” Howard wrote.

Howard went on to write that “The Western Kentucky Catholic is our diocesan newspaper. We have to use it to spread the Good News of Jesus and in the words of Bishop Soenneker in that first issue of June, 1974, ‘The faithful of Sacred Heart parish of Hickman will share in the events of the parish of St. Paul in Grayson County and the people of LaCenter will be encouraged by the blessings that have come to Christ the King Mission of Scottsville.’”

Devine, who still belongs to Precious Blood and will turn 70 on his next birthday, said he has certainly experienced trials in his life – including a kidney transplant – but that he feels “truly blessed” today.

He has also kept up with The Western Kentucky Catholic and is pleased with how the newspaper has turned out.

“It keeps you informed about what’s going on,” said Devine. “It makes you feel more united.”

Originally printed in the January 2020 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

Copyright © 2020 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic

Diocese of Owensboro 600 Locust Street Owensboro, KY 42301 270-683-1545

Red Pixel Studios