Catholic Sentinel

The Catholic Sentinel is the Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. Reportedly the oldest Catholic newspaper on the West Coast, it is published by Oregon Catholic Press, which also publishes El Centinela, a Spanish-language newspaper. It has published an online edition since 1996.[1]

Catholic Sentinel
TypeTwice-monthly newspaper
Owner(s)Oregon Catholic Press
Founder(s)Henry Herman and J. F. Atkinson
Founded1869; 152 years ago (1869)
CityPortland, Oregon
CountryUnited States
Sister newspapersEl Centinela


The Catholic Sentinel was started in 1869 by grocer Henry Herman and printer J. F. Atkinson in response to anti-Catholicism. After the Whitman massacre in 1847, a Protestant minister falsely accused local Catholics of inciting a band of Cayuse Indians to killing 10 Protestant missionaries.[2][3]

The first run of the Catholic Sentinel was 500 copies, and a year's subscription cost $4. The Sentinel now sends out more than 20,000 copies of each issue, plus 8,000 of El Centinela.

The Sentinel has consistently fought anti-Catholic prejudice. In 1879, editor Stephen McCormick stated,

The need of a vigorous defender of the Faith in the Northwest is apparent to every Catholic who notices the numerous calumnies and slanders the Sentinel is called on to refute in the course of a single year. We have to defend the truth against all attacks; to explain honest misconstructions; to correct willful misrepresentations; expose false assertions, refute sophistical arguments, and above all to advocate effectively, correctly and positively the Faith that is in us and which is the bond of Christian unity that unites us to our readers.[4]

In August 1895 Rev. Roland Grant of the American Protective Association spoke at the First Baptist Church in Portland. Among other claims, members of the A.P.A. maintained that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church had instigated the Civil War, during which they said Catholics made up large numbers of deserters, and that both Grover Cleveland and William McKinley were controlled by the Church.[5] The Sentinel covered Grant's speech in which he spoke highly of an A.P.A riot in Boston a month earlier on the 4th of July.[4]

In 1913, the editor of the Silverton Journal, J.E. Hosmer, published a pamphlet entitled, "The Escaped Nun from Mount Angel Convent or The Last Stand of Desperate Despotism". Hosmer was later convicted of libel and recanted.[4] In 1912, and for several years thereafter, the Ku Klux Klan circulated a bogus oath supposedly taken by members of the Knights of Columbus. The spurious pledge contained, among other provisions those in which members purported pledged loyalty to the Pope and denounced Liberals, Masons, and Protestants; pledged not to hire any Protestant, and to send domestic workers as spies into Protestant homes.[6] Editor John O'Hara found a copy of the so-called oath posted on the newspaper's door.

In 1928, the Catholic Sentinel was acquired by the Catholic Truth Society of Oregon, later renamed Oregon Catholic Press.[7] It moved to a new printing plant in 1963 after its former building was condemned for use in the Stadium Freeway project.[8]

The papers cover personalities, trends and stories of interest to Oregon Catholics.

In 2017, the Catholic Press Association of the United States named the Sentinel Newspaper of the Year in its category. The last time the paper won that honor was 1959. It won again in 2021.


  1. ^ "Catholic Newspapers Online", Catholic Research Resources Allliance
  2. ^ Blanchet, Francis Norbert (1878). Historical sketches of the Catholic Church in Oregon during the past forty years. p. 173.
  3. ^ 'Defender of the Faith,' by Fr. Wilfred Schoenberg, Oregon Catholic Press, 1993.
  4. ^ a b c "History of the Catholic Sentinel", Catholic Sentinel
  5. ^ Stevens, Albert C., The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities,, New York City. Hamilton Printing and Publishing Company. 1899 p. 295.
  6. ^ Fry, Henry Peck. The Modern Ku Klux Klan, Boston. Small, Maynard & Company. 1922. p. 108
  7. ^ "History". Oregon Catholic Press. Retrieved 2020-11-01.
  8. ^ Reed, Watford (April 11, 1963). "Catholic Weekly Moves To New Plant". The Oregonian. p. 7.

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