Remembering TLIC with joy, sadness and gratitude

I’ve been feeling a rush of emotion as I prepare for the last issue of The Long Island Catholic as a weekly newspaper.

After all, I have been here for a little more than 26 years, slightly more than half of the existence of the paper, as founded by Bishop Walter Kellenberg and Msgr. Richard Hanley, our first editor.
The emotions hit as I try to finish up my last stories, knowing they are the last stories that I will write for TLIC readers but also as I go through my e-mails, file drawers, and a stack of papers on my desk.

I’ve been in the newspaper business since 1978, a few months after I graduated from college, following in the footsteps of my father, a career newspaperman for “The Youngstown Vindicator,” the daily paper in my hometown, Youngstown, Ohio. I should add that I followed in his footsteps but much against his advice.

In those days, we were still using electric typewriters, cameras required film and photographers used dark rooms. We sent materials to the printer through the mail or by bus, and we got our national and international news through teletype machines.

Back then we ended our stories with a numeral, “30,” which signaled that the story had ended.
I worked for a year with a small daily newspaper, then moved to the diocesan newspaper in Youngstown. After seven years I applied for an opening with TLIC. They made me an offer. So with reservations, trepidation, and hope, I packed everything I could in my tiny 1985 Honda Civic and drove to Long Island to begin my new life and new career here.

It’s been a real experience. Though I have had my share of disappointments and frustrations, I’ve been happy to make a living, however modest, reporting on the news and life of the Church.

During that time I have had the privilege of being involved with my fellow reporters, with editors, and various support staff who have worked together to make our weekly paper a reality. Though I might not call it a family, there is certainly a fellowship of individuals who have shared not only the common mission but the joys and struggles of our individual lives which somehow could never be completely separated from our professional lives.

My colleagues have been with me as I adjusted to a new place filled with strange-sounding names like Hauppauge, Ronkonkoma, and Wantagh. I learned my way around parkways, expressways, main roads and back roads getting back and forth from assignments. I learned new depth to the meaning of the word “traffic.”

They tolerated my foibles and eccentricities, were with me as I dealt with various ailments, the death of loved ones, particularly my mother, and celebrated with me when I married a wonderful young woman, Mary Grieco, who I met here — that’s reason alone to justify my coming here. They also shared my joy with the birth of our sons, Joe and Michael.

I have had the privilege of interviewing thousands of people. Sometimes they told me about their work and other times shared their personal struggles, joys, and faith. I’ve also helped, in my own small way, to keep readers informed about the world, the Church, and their faith.

Watching that end is difficult.

There is also sadness in seeing myself about to be unemployed for the first time.  Of course that sadness is shared by four of my present colleagues and more who were laid off from the paper over the past year.

As I scour ads for work and beat the bushes contacting colleagues and acquaintances about possible job openings, I find myself praying those words from the “Our Father” — “Give us this day our daily bread” — more heartfelt than ever.

Yet I don’t want to seem negative. I’m grateful for all my colleagues, for all my news sources for their valuable assistance, and for the readers, especially those who have cared enough to write or call — even those who called to complain.

I’m also grateful to my fellow reporters and other coworkers — too numerous to name — and to the editors who brought me to the paper, Msgr. Frank Maniscalco, Liz O’Connor, Dick Mauter, and Nancy Dwyer. I must also mention other editors, such as Peggy Clausen, Greg LeFreniere, Peter Feuerherd, and especially Rick Hinshaw, my current editor and longtime friend.

I’d be remiss in not noting Bishop McGann, who I knew for years, and Bishop McHugh, who I knew only briefly, for their strong support of the paper. I also appreciate the support that Bishop Murphy gave for almost a decade.

This is not the place to debate the merits of switching to a monthly magazine. I wish the magazine and its three-member staff well.

Still, I will miss TLIC as I have known it. I ask for your prayers and promise you my own.

— 30 —