One morning in late September 1981, I entered the newsroom of Catholic New York in Manhattan and walked to my desk. On top of it, and on top of every other desk, fresh from the press, lay the first issue of Catholic New York. The cover carried a magnificent, full-page photo of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“Oh, wow!” I exclaimed.
For about two months, with the other reporters on staff, I had worked hard to research and write stories for the new archdiocesan newspaper. Now I held a copy in my hands, and I felt proud and excited. So did my colleagues. All the hard work, all the racing to meet deadlines, had been worth it. Something wonderful had been launched, and we were proud to be part of it, proud of the work we had done.
A couple of years later, changes in my life took me away from New York. Later I returned, but held other writing jobs until Anne Buckley, managing editor at the time, invited me back to CNY. That was one of the great blessings of my life. I became the features editor and, later, a columnist. Now, as I write this column for CNY’s final issue, I’m looking back.
So many events, so many interviews, so many stories to be told. I loved it. It was a privilege to listen to people, to watch an event unfold, and then to organize the information, write it and see it on a page under my name.
There were milestone events that the whole staff was involved in, like the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1995. There were feature stories about “Catholic New Yorkers” who were making a difference locally or on a wider stage. I grew ever more impressed by the strong faith of so many Catholics, and the dedication they bring to their service of the Church and its people. I was edified by the tireless work of priests and religious women and men, and their compassion for the people they serve.
For years I wrote profiles of the seminarians soon to be ordained to the priesthood. Their stories, and their willingness to embrace their vocations, inspire me still. It was my privilege to cover the founding of the Sisters of Life by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1991. I am inspired by so many in the archdiocese—lay people, religious and priests—who bear powerful witness through work and prayer to the sacredness of the lives of unborn babies and their mothers.
I loved covering Masses in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Its soaring space and magnificent stained glass and sacred art lift my heart and make me grateful for my faith. Once, as I entered the cathedral from the parish house to cover a Mass marking an anniversary of the Missionaries of Charity in New York City, Mother Teresa entered from an inside door. I hastened to her side to get a quote, and Chris Sheridan, our photographer, captured the moment.
As I look back, what I most want to say is “Thank you”—to the late founding editor, Jerry Costello, and Ms. Buckley, for hiring me, and to John Woods, editor in chief, for giving me the chance to write a column. Thank you to my colleagues through the years for friendship, encouragement and laughter. Thank you to my readers, and special thanks to the people of my parish, St. Augustine’s, and SS. John and Paul, in Larchmont, for their kind words and for asking where my column will now appear. When I find out, I will let you know. Meanwhile, I will continue to write my column and I will make sure it reaches you.
The best gift the Catholic press gave me is the privilege of working with words in service to the Word. Newspapers are discarded and stories disappear, but that’s not entirely true for the Catholic press. The words disappear, but the message does not. It takes root and lives on in hearts and minds, because the message is the Word, and He lives forever.
Keep reading the Catholic press. Keep listening to the Word. Now and always, thank God and thank you.