PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — The new leader of America’s largest publisher of Catholic worship music started out as a blue-collar worker in the company’s warehouse.
Wade Wisler, 49, was a shipping clerk when he began at Portland-based Oregon Catholic Press in 2000.
By the time Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample named him the new publisher March 14, Wisler had distinguished himself as an ad copy writer, editor of a quarterly worship magazine and director of a division that develops new music for use in churches.
“I know that he is the ideal person to bring his experience, his commitment to the church, and his deep and abiding faith to lead OCP into this next era,” Archbishop Sample said.
OCP, a not-for-profit in operation for more than 90 years, sells music for choirs and songbooks like “Today’s Missal,” “Breaking Bread,” “JourneySongs” and “Flor y Canto” to three-fourths of Catholic parishes in the United States. The worship aids also go worldwide, including to the United Kingdom, Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines and China.
OCP publishes Latin chant, contemporary music in many languages and “Spirit & Song,” a hymnal for Catholic youth. It also produces recordings.
“Our primary mission is to spread the Gospel, serve the church, and help people around the world to pray and worship through music,” Wisler told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. “That is something I am passionate about.”
Wisler replaces John Limb, who is retired at the end of April after 31 years at the company, 25 as publisher. OCP, which also publishes the Catholic Sentinel and El Centinela, the archdiocese’s Spanish-language newspaper, went through a meteoric advance during Limb’s tenure. In addition to serving more parishes than any other liturgical publisher, OCP has led the way in Spanish Catholic worship publications.
Wisler plans to remain on Limb’s course.
“The company is doing well,” Wisler said. “I want to stay out of the way and let people do the good work they have been doing for so long.”
Limb plans to devote more time to boards and organizations, but he will be working with the new publisher to ensure a smooth transition at OCP.
Wisler, a University of Michigan graduate, is a musician and a proficient Spanish speaker. He said the most important people OCP serves are the worshippers in the pews. He realizes that music can enhance or impede a person’s encounter with God.
“We always have been looking at the church, looking at the changing needs of the church, and have been willing to adapt to meet those needs,” Wisler said.
Challenges OCP faced under Limb, and will continue to wrestle with under Wisler, include the shift from print to digital publishing and the trend in dioceses to close or consolidate parishes.
In addition to publishing music, OCP gives financial support to good causes, including the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker. A grants program allows parishes across the nation to enhance their worship.
OCP is a major sponsor of Encuentro, a multiyear catechetical and information-gathering event among Latinos in the U.S. Catholic Church. About 8 percent of employees are Spanish speakers and “Flor y Canto” is the best-selling Spanish hymnal in the country. The company offers workshops at parishes to help staff improve their ministry to Hispanics.
Langlois is editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.