Eureka Street's founding vision

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of Eureka Street. In the fickle world of media where many publications fail to find a sustained readership, this longevity is quite an achievement. To celebrate the anniversary, Eureka Street presents video interviews with some of its most prominent contributors. The first series of six conversations begins today, with one appearing every fortnight. There will be a second series later in the year.

Prior to the advent of Eureka Street, many Australian Jesuits had discussed their desire to publish a journal featuring intelligent comment on topical issues in church and society. They were inspired by Jesuit publications overseas like  the US Jesuits’ America, established in 1909, and the The Month in Britain (1864-2001).

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So it’s fitting that the first interview should be with Jesuit priest, Michael Kelly, Eureka Street’s founding publisher, who made this vision a reality. He talks about the significance of the journal, and the future of the Catholic Church and faith in Australia. 

He spoke with Eureka Street TV last Sunday at St Canice’s Church in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, just prior to the Mass celebrating the 25th anniversary of ordination of fellow Jesuit, Frank Brennan, another high profile contributor to Eureka Street

Michael Kelly is a man of vision, who brought his boundless energy, and entrepreneurial spirit to the foundation of Eureka Street. He studied the marketplace, and with scant finances put together production facilities. He assembled gifted personnel, such as longtime editor, and now prominent public intellectual, Morag Fraser.

Eureka Street began as a monthly print magazine. In another insightful and, at the time, controversial move, Kelly anticipated the switch from print to internet media and encouraged Eureka Street to go online in 2006, well before many similar publications made the move. This rejuvenated the journal and gave it a larger and more diverse readership.

Eureka Street is just one of a host of Michael Kelly’s initiatives. Shortly after its foundation, he also launched Australian Catholics, a mass circulation bi-monthly magazine. Both publications were part of a revamping and consolidation of the considerable publishing activities of the Jesuit order, coming under the umbrella of Jesuit Communications which he created. 

In the mid-1990s Kelly founded, and was the first CEO of Church Resources, a charitable trust which combines the buying power of Catholic and other Church institutions in purchasing services and supplies such as telecommunications and stationery. 

In 2004 he was founding CEO of Aurora TV, a not-for-profit independent pay channel that can be seen on Foxtel, Austar and Optus TV, broadcasting original Australian programs from independent and community program makers.

Since 2008 Kelly has been based in Bangkok as CEO of Union of Catholic Asia News (UCAN), a 30 year old news service reporting on the Asian region. He is bringing the same entrepreneurial skills and innovative spirit to UCAN, launching its online and interactive services, and extending its reach, particularly in India and the Philippines.

Peter KirkwoodPeter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a Master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity.

Topic tags: Peter Kirkwood, Michael Kelly, Eureka Street, Australian Catholics, Catholic Church



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Existing comments

Very impressed with Michael's thoughtful precis of the magzine's birth and life. I am a reader who savored the print version and sighed when it went electric; and then been delighted by the vibrancy and range of the web version. Magazines, of all sort and stripe, connect, challenge, provoke, inform, stimulate -- and these are delicious words in an energetic and creative society. Without connection to the burble of daily life in every form, Catholicism becomes mere false nostalgia (as Kelly notes) or museum piece; all those who have worked for, written for, and read the Street with interest ought to be commended for doing something that matters more than they know, I think.
brian doyle | 08 February 2011


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