Pray Tell Turns 5!

On December 30, 2009, Pray Tell’s first ever post went live: Welcome to “Pray Tell”! It’s most interesting to read my roll-out reflections five years later.

Among other things I said this:

Some will ask, Is this to be a liberal blog? Well, what else would you expect from Collegeville?! But more needs to be said than that. If liberal means open-minded, self-questioning, ecumenical, attentive to contemporary culture, and avoidant of romantic nostalgia, then we surely hope to be liberal. But if liberal means yesterday’s progressivism, yesterday’s ideals as if the culture and the churches haven’t changed dramatically since the 1970s or 1980s, then we hope to be not at all liberal. Those in the “old guard,” if there be such, can expect to be challenged and engaged.

Has Pray Tell held to its lofty ideals these past five years? We’ve done our best. But to be sure, it’s a mixed record. How could it not be?

Five years isn’t that long, but it’s been a long journey in church time, with many exciting ups and downs. Think new Roman Missal. Think new pope. It’s all been very stimulating and provocative. It is most rewarding to facilitate and moderate the important discussions that happen here.

There will be more reflections from now until January 1st as we look back on this great journey. Then Nathan Chase will take over as moderator on January 2nd as I get some sabbatical time off.

According to our software’s stats, since Day One we’ve averaged 1.65 posts per day and 39.24 comments per day. We’ve had 31,327,478 hits and 11,917,943 unique visits, but it’s hard to know how much of that is real people and how much is robots and machines.

Here are the top four posts with the most comments over the years:

The careful reader will notice that these comment-rich (and controversy-rich) posts are all from before March 13, 2013. Can you think of anything that happened that day? I will have more to say about the calming influence Pope Francis has had upon the mood at Pray Tell. The “Francis Effect” has been very significant, and most welcome.

There are many people to thank who have helped keep this adventure going:

  • Peter Dwyer, head of LitPress, Hans Christofferson from LitPress, and Brian Eisenshenk, tech person at LitPress.
  • Grad assistants from St. Johon’s School of Theology – Chris Ángel, Chase Becker, and Nathan Chase.
  • Members of the editorial committee at various times: Hans Christofferson, Rose Beauclair, Kathleen Cahalan, Chase Becker, Chris Ángel, Nathan Chase, Kim Belcher, and Rita Ferrone.
  • Everyone who has been a contributor over the years: Andrew Casad, Bill Burke, Bruce Morrill, Chase Becker, Chris Ángel, Chris Scharen, Christian McConnell, Clare Johnson, + Cody Unterseher, David Fagerberg, Diana Macalintal, Dirk Lange, Edward Schaefer, Fritz Bauerschmidt, Johan van Parys, John Baldovin, John Foley, Jonathan Day, Jordan Zarembo, Joyce Ann Zimmerman, Katie Harmon, Kim Belcher, Mark Francis, Max Johnson, Michael Joncas, Michael Wurtz, Nathan Chase, Nicholas Denysenko, Paul Ford, Paul Inwood, Peter Rehwaldt, Philip Endean, Richard Giles, Rita Ferrone, Robin Jensen, Susan Wood, Teresa Berger, Timothy Brunk, and Timothy Johnston.

I conclude with the most important Thank You: to you, readers and commenters. We do it all for you, and we couldn’t do it without you. Thanks much!


Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB


  1. 31,327,478 hits, and an average of 39.24 comments per day: This gives roughly one comment per 436 hits over the five years. I have no idea how this compares with the level of comments on other websites. However, it goes without saying that no other website is comparable to PrayTell!
    I have been informed and encouraged by PrayTell since I first found it; and have even contributed an occasional comment. So thank you for making this valuable resource available.
    Now let me see … where is that examination of conscience which Pope Francis proposed to the Roman Curia and to every Christian and ecclesial group so that we will become more and more truly the Body of Christ? … Ah, here it is …

  2. Ad multos annos! I have learned so much following Pray Tell over the past few years. My “go to” source for all things liturgical. Thank you Fr. Anthony, et al.

  3. I have been here since the beginning – admittedly not posting very much but basking in the wealth of knowledge and opinion expressed on the many and varied topics presented.
    I admit that I have been reading more regularly since the “Francis effect” has reduced a lot of the rancor and snark……if I wanted to raise my blood pressure, there are many other sites I could visit!!! Many who do post regularly have contributed to this effect also in their even handed and conciliatory presenting of topics.
    If we cannot unify, at least let us not vilify!
    Congratulations, Fr Anthony and all at Pray Tell!!

  4. Congratulations!
    I am extremely grateful, first to Rita Ferrone who introduced me to this blog in 2010. My posts have provided me with several opportunities to share both my pastoral experience and scholarship. Many of my comments have led to invitations to publish – important people are watching!
    Thank you Fr. Anthony for your tireless efforts to promote an outstanding forum for conversation, teaching, and learning. You just might be our present day Virgil Michel.

  5. A Thank you not only to those who post but to those who comment. I have found this the most informative and civil blog site of all I have come across. Serious and respectful interaction. A blessed new year to all.

  6. Amen to Donna’s praise of Father Anthony as our modern-day Father Virgil; and Amen to Linda’s “If we cannot unify, at least let us not vilify!” Thanks to Peter Dwyer and The Liturgical Press for Pray Tell!

  7. Thanks to Father Anthony for the idea of this blog and to all those who have taken turns moderating it. I post rarely, but read it frequently. Sources and citations provided here have helped enormously in my largely self-directed journey to learn as much as I can about liturgical history, theology and praxis. Best wishes for many more years of fruitful dialogue.

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