Bishop names Rodgers director of communications

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Longtime journalist will replace the retiring Robert Lockwood 

Pittsburgh Catholic Staff Report

Bishop David Zubik has appointed Ann Rodgers as the director of communications for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. She will join the staff of the diocese Sept. 30 as a transition to her new position, which will be effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Rodgers has covered religion for the secular media since 1980. She will succeed Robert Lockwood, who has served as director of communications since October 2001.

Lockwood, a member of St. Monica Parish in Beaver Falls with his wife, Cindy, is retiring after 42 years in Catholic communications.

Rodgers lives in McMurray with her husband, Rea Andrew Redd, director of the Eberly Library at Waynesburg University. They are members of Trinity Church (Anglican) in Washington, Pa.

"After reporting on the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh for 25 years, I have gained tremendous respect for the integrity of its leadership and the great good it does in the community through its many ministries and social outreach. I hope that the experience and abilities I bring will enable the diocese to tell that story of faith, mission and service in new and engaging ways," Rodgers said.

In making the announcement, Bishop Zubik noted that Rodgers "has proven to be a journalist of utmost integrity and fairness, not only to the Catholic Church in general and the Diocese of Pittsburgh in particular, but to all faiths. In Pittsburgh, she has covered stories from every corner of the diocese, and knows our church, our faith and our mission. Ann was in Rome to cover the elections of both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. She has been a recognized and respected presence for 25 years at the meetings of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Most important, she has a zeal for the faith and the role it plays in the life of our community. Combined with her background and professionalism, she will be a true gift to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and a continued gift to the entire community of faith in southwestern Pennsylvania," the bishop said.

Lockwood came to Pittsburgh in 2001 after serving for 28 years with Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newspaper. The first lay editor-in-chief of Our Sunday Visitor, Lockwood served as president for his last 10 years with the Catholic publishing house.

One of the most recognized Catholic journalists and writers in the country, Lockwood remains a regular columnist for Our Sunday Visitor and a frequent contributor to the Pittsburgh Catholic. He has published numerous books, including "A Guy's Guide to the Good Life: Virtues for Men" (Servant Books), which was awarded "Best Popular Presentation of the Faith" by the Catholic Press Association in 2011.

Lockwood also serves as general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic, a responsibility Rodgers will assume in January.

"Bob Lockwood has been an extraordinary gift to the Church of Pittsburgh. Having served so faithfully my predecessor, Cardinal Wuerl, and myself, he has selflessly shared his extraordinary talents to get the news of the church out in the public. It is no secret that I will miss Bob's daily assistance as he is one of my closest advisers. However, I do recognize that he has more than earned his time of retirement and the joy of spending much more quality time with his family," Bishop Zubik said.

Rodgers is a native of Palo Alto, Calif. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master of theological studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 2005, she received a Lilly Foundation grant through the Religion Newswriters Association to study at the Duquesne University Law School summer program in Rome on canon law.

She has covered religion for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., the Pittsburgh Press and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since 1993.

Rodgers has won numerous journalism awards, including the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's Keystone Award for best beat reporting in the state of Pennsylvania. She was a board member of the Religion Newswriters Association, which trains journalists to cover religion with accuracy, fairness and civility. She was president of the Religion Newswriters Association from 2011 to 2013.

"I am grateful to Bishop Zubik for this opportunity to use my skills in service to God and the Catholic Church. I am also deeply grateful to my former employer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for the many opportunities I was given to write about faith and for the unflagging support and encouragement of my editors and publisher," Rodgers said.

"The Catholic vision of a 'new evangelization' of those in historically Christian cultures who are estranged from Jesus and his church is a challenge all Christians should embrace. We are all in this together. I hope that my three decades of reporting on and explaining the Catholic Church to the general public will help in carrying out that mission," she said.