Marites (Tess) N. Sison has been appointed editor of the 139-year-old Anglican Journal. She moves to the editorship from her longstanding position as senior writer, taking the helm from Archdeacon Paul Feheley, who has served as interim managing editor since January 2013.
A graduate in mass communications of the University of the Philippines in Manila, Sison brings almost three decades of professional journalism to her new role. Her work includes contributions to The New York Times, the Toronto Star and CBC Radio. Since joining the editorial staff of the Anglican Journal in 2003, she has received 28 awards for writing and photography. As skilled in digital communications as she is in the printed word, Sison has also played a pivotal part in developing and managing the newspaper’s online strategies and social media platforms.
“Tess has a long and very positive history with the Journal, but that’s only a small part of what made her stand out. She also has a strong vision for the future of the paper, website and social media,” said the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, general secretary and interim director of communications of the Anglican Church of Canada. “And she sees the Journal as a ministry that serves the church and strengthens our sense of mission.”
In her 11 years on staff, Sison, 49, has reported news and crafted features on a wide array of topics in religion, human rights, humanitarian crises and social justice-from the tiniest local congregations to the farthest-flung reaches of the Anglican Communion. But she is perhaps best known recently for her insightful, painstaking and drill-down coverage of Canadian aboriginal issues, including the Indian residential schools tragedy and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“Tess’s coverage has always been sensitive, probing and fair-especially on indigenous issues,” said Bishop Mark MacDonald, the church’s national indigenous bishop. “She has not only depicted the concerns of Indigenous peoples accurately, but she has also helped the whole church to see realities that have often been hidden in plain sight. It will be good to have her skill and art helping us see the world.”
The editors of the diocesan newspapers also expressed their approval. “This is a great step forward for the Journal and for the church to have acknowledged Tess’s talents and dedication lo these many years,” said Tim Christison, editor of The Sower in the diocese of Calgary. “Her professionalism and life experience will serve us all well as the Journal and church journalism continue to evolve. We are blessed that she is willing to take on the challenges while maintaining her high standards.”
Poised to step into her new role, Sison shared her editorial hopes for the future. “As the church goes through an epochal shift, I would like the Journal to review its mission and vision to see whether it responds to today’s needs and challenges,” she said. “As editor, I would like to see the Journal go beyond reporting on church governance issues and events and also tackle issues and questions about faith, ethics, religion, spirituality, social issues and, yes, everyday living.”
Sison also plans to strengthen the newspaper’s relationship with Church House, bishops and dioceses, diocesan newspaper editors and Anglicans across Canada. “I would like the Journal to be out there on the ground and on the road, gathering stories that offer encouragement and hope, provoke deep thought and inspire positive change and capture the challenges as well as the courage, dynamism and goodness of those who have dedicated their lives to God’s plan.”
Yet she remains aware of the need for journalistic integrity and objectivity, vowing to uphold the paper’s editorial independence and continue its role of informing and challenging readers.
Sison is also mindful of the editor’s crucial role in developing new writers. “I would like to help train the next generation of religious journalists through a mentorship program for young Anglicans and Lutherans,” she said. “I would also like to add more value to our website, and we will embark on more multimedia projects in the coming months.”
Sison’s appointment was recommended by a selection panel that met and conducted interviews of applicants to the position on July 10.
Panel members included Thompson, the Rev. Canon Rob Towler (chair, Anglican Journal coordinating committee), Canon Stuart Mann (director of communications, diocese of Toronto), the Rev. Karen Egan (member, communications and information resources coordinating committee) and Bev Murphy (senior manager, communications and information resources).