US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Writer’s Guide

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  Writers Guidelines for U.S. Catholic

U.S. Catholic is happy to consider pitches and unsolicited submissions. Due to the high volume of submissions, it may take at least six to eight weeks for a manuscript to receive a response. To familiarize yourself with the kinds of articles we run in U.S. Catholic, please spend some time browsing our issue archive.

Please note that we plan our editorial calendar well in advance, so article ideas should be submitted at least six months before they would appear in the magazine. U.S. Catholic does not consider submissions that have simultaneously been sent to any other publication or that have appeared elsewhere in any form, either in print or online. This includes articles published on personal blogs or excerpts from books, published or unpublished.

Types of articles published in U.S. Catholic:

FEATURE ARTICLES cover current trends and issues both in and out of the church, putting a faith perspective on topics of concern to everyday Catholics. Feature articles in U.S. Catholic cover a wide range of topics, such as family life, education, economics, science, immigration, social justice, the environment, and parish life. Features range in length from 2,500 to 3,500 words. Our feature stories aim to go beyond basic reporting by offering analysis and interpretation of the issues, including a wide range of sources who can offer different takes on the topic and represent all sides. All articles should have an explicit religious dimension, enabling readers to see the interaction between their faith and the issue at hand. With features it is best to submit a pitch letter rather than a completed article. A sample can be found here.

ESSAYS range from 800 to 1,600 words and present thoughtful reflections or opinions on concerns Catholics face in everyday life. We look for new or different takes on a familiar issue or topics that are not often presented from a faith perspective. A sample can be found here.

SOUNDING BOARDS are strongly worded opinion pieces on an issue of importance to Catholics in which the author argues one side of a many-sided subject and outlines a plan of action. The more strongly argued, the better. Articles are roughly 1,400 words. A sample can be found here.

In PRACTICING CATHOLIC, the author reflects on the meaning of a particular prayer practice; the column covers practices both traditional (i.e. praying the rosary) and unexpected (i.e. gardening or knitting). The article includes both a personal reflection on the author’s own prayer life, as well as a dialogue with writers, theologians, and other experts on the importance of the practice and the universal value for other Catholics. The piece IS NOT primarily a description of the history or the practice, nor is it simply a personal anecdote of someone’s own prayer life. Length is about 1,100 words, with a short sidebar on some aspect of the practice. This column appears four times a year. A sample can be found here.

IN PERSON are profiles of contemporary Catholics and how they are living their faith in today’s world. Generally we do not feature priests or men and women religious, but lay Catholics who are working outside the church. An In Person profile is not a biography of the subject but rather a brief essay that illustrates, through personal details and events in the subject’s life, the personality, importance, and faith of the subject. These profiles are approximately 800 words and include a pull-out box with a four to six “quick-take” questions. This department appears four times per year. A sample can be found here.

In a WISE GUIDE essay, the author introduces a spiritually significant, non-living individual from the Catholic tradition and gives a personal account of why his or her spirituality is meaningful today. The significant individual can be a saint from long ago, or a well-known historical figure. The author should provide readers with pertinent biographical information on the subject while explaining with personal anecdotes how the subject has been a guide for the author and can be a guide to all Catholics today. The author should have a personal connection with the subject and be able to highlight a unique aspect of his or her spirituality with which readers can also resonate. Length is 1,100 words plus at least 2 quotes from the subject. Wise Guide appears four times per year. A sample can be found here.

GLAD YOU ASKED is a brief monthly article that presents an informed and enlightened response to a basic question of Catholic doctrine, history, identity, and/or pastoral practice. Responding to the need of Catholics today for solid information about their church, GYA does not assume prior knowledge or preconceived notions on the part of readers but only the desire of people to understand more about the church and its tradition. The article begins with a straightforward question such as “Why does Lent have 40 days?” and offers a answer that, while not comprehensive, enlightens and intrigues readers. Length is 500 words. A sample can be found here.

REVIEWS summarize and critique a book (generally non-fiction), movie, or musical work. The content of the work does not have to be specifically religious. Reviews should provide a brief summary of content and critique. Length is 315 words. 

Unsolicited SHORT STORIES are welcome, although U.S. Catholic does not frequently publish fictional works. Topics vary, but unpublished fiction should be no longer than 1,500 words and should cause readers to consider their relationships with others, the world, and/or God. Specifically religious themes are not required; subject matter is not restricted. Email literaryeditor@uscatholic.org. A sample can be found here.

Submission of original unpublished POETRY is welcome. Poems do not have to be religious and there are no restrictions on subject matter or form. We are looking for high quality, powerful poems that will evoke a strong response from readers. Email submissions to literaryeditor@uscatholic.org. Due to the high volume of poetry we receive, it often takes 10 to 12 weeks to receive a response. 

U.S. Catholic does not accept submissions to the following departments and columns: The Examined Life, Expert Witness, Testaments, Culture in Context, Margin Notes, At Home with Our Faith, or Eye of the Beholder.

We also encourage submissions for ONLINE PUBLICATION. We look for the following in online submissions:

  • Timely: Our website aims to address current events, recent developments, and general trends that are on the minds of our readers. Submissions should offer a fresh and interesting take on a topic that is relevant to our audience, but should not simply offer a recap of recent events.
  • Accessible: Authors should aim to reach a wide audience with their writing style, using a conversational tone rather than a scholarly or academic approach.
  • Unpublished: U.S. Catholic will not consider submissions that have already appeared on other websites, blogs, or in print publications.

If you are interested in writing any of these articles, please email us your submission at the appropriate address below:

submissions@claretians.org (articles/essays); literaryeditor@uscatholic.org (poetry and fiction)