Rose Rea wants to make the world a more beautiful place, both inside and out.
After graduating from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in communications, and working for a luxury magazine, Rea wanted to put her experience to work for God. The result: Radiant: A Magazine for the Fun, Fashionable and Devout Woman.
As a CCD confirmation teacher, Rea had met plenty of young women who had never learned the basics of Catholicism and didn’t see how it related to their lives. “Their main complaint was that the faith was boring,” she says. “They just weren’t excited about it. They thought it was all about rules.”
Radiant is aimed at under-catechized Catholic women like them, between the ages of 15 and 27. “We want to get their attention for just five minutes, the time it takes to read one article,” Rea says. “There needs to be something out there that says: ‘Your faith is cool and you can still be beautiful and stylish if you’re Catholic.’”
At 6.5 inches x 9 inches and just over a dozen pages, Radiant is small enough to slide into a school backpack. (Plans are to keep the small size but expand the thickness.) Even though slight, each issue of Radiant reaches an impressive 20,000 readers (distributed in all 50 states in bulk to churches, high schools, colleges, Catholic companies, events, etc., as well as to subscribers). Not bad for its first year in print.
Also not bad considering Rea is a busy wife and mom of two young children. In addition to individual subscriptions, bulk copies are sent to parishes, high schools, colleges, Bible study groups, even Catholic hospitals. “I love distributing them this way,” says Rea. “It creates discussion.”
What sort of discussion?
The same things you see covered in a secular fashion magazine: relationships, trends and celebrity interviews. There are even male contributors to give a perspective on what guys are thinking. “There’s really nothing that’s off the table,” says Rea.
The difference is perspective. The difference is faith.
“There is so much beauty in the Catechism,” she says. “We’re not saying anything new. We’re just putting it in a more relatable way.”
The hook is the gorgeous “Style Watch” section, courtesy of Anna Liesemeyer, Radiant’s design director. It features modest separates and classy accessories from designers like Shabby Apple and In Honor of Design. One of the goals of Radiant is to give print space to the good initiatives that are already out there, like Decent Exposure from film star Jessica Rey.
“Radiant magazine steps into a very needed market: addressing Catholic young women in a contemporary and orthodox manner,” says John Domingo, a member of the magazine’s advisory board (which also includes Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, past president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville). Domingo serves as the director of religious education at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, Va., and is part of the Diocese of Richmond, Va., Youth Commission. “I’m excited to see the evolution of the magazine from the foldable sheet to where it is now. I think Radiant is a definite expression of the New Evangelization by engaging our world one person at a time, and continue to pray for its success.”
Once you’re drawn in by a pair of cute silver shoes, you can dabble in the variety of short articles. “Real Life: Real Women: Real Heroes” features ordinary women who have survived challenges.
The spring 2011 issue features Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack and whose story is being told in theaters now in the movie Soul Surfer.
“It’s amazing how God works,” she says in the interview. “I think he allowed this to happen to bring himself more glory. It’s exciting to share everything I’ve been through and still continue to do what I love with only one arm. I’m now living a totally unexpected life. … We all go through struggles, and my journey hasn’t been easy. I still struggle every day, but I devote my day to God and give him my burdens. I trust completely in him. When I let any selfishness creep up, that’s when it gets difficult, so I am reminded to let go and surrender my trials to God. Making the movie wasn’t exactly easy; we had to deal with all kinds of attention that we’re not used to. On the plus side, I’m excited to use that attention to be a light for Christ.”
Overall, there is little overt apologetics material in the magazine because Rea feels that there are already a lot of great apologetics publications out there.
But viewed another way, Radiant is all apologetics. Take the back-page piece about Our Lady in the spring 2010 issue, which focuses on how she is full of grace yet understands our human suffering and cares like a mother. Plugging Our Lady in a style magazine may seem out of place. But, then again, she is the ultimate model of femininity.
Reader response to Radiant has been just what Rea and her team hoped. Subscriber Marylouise McGraw calls it an “inspiring and up-building alternative to Cosmopolitan and People.”
Sarah Tamayo, another reader, says, “For months I have been pondering what a great need there is for a magazine for young Catholic women that fosters holy beauty and the feminine genius. How happy I was the other day to stumble upon this wonderful apostolate while browsing the Internet! God reward you and renew you in this work!”
Susie Lloyd writes from Whitehall, Pennsylvania.
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