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Editor’s Note: We Just Have to Listen

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The Lord tells us what to do. We just have to listen.”

One of our recently-ordained priests wrote that in a profile about his view of vocations. So when the company that owned the newspaper I was publishing in Illinois in 2011 directed that an additional 18-20 percent would have to be chopped from the 2012 budget, I started pacing my oversized office. We had already reduced expenses beyond what was prudent. Layoffs – at Christmas, no less – lay dead ahead. It was time to listen.

The community the paper served suffered economic doldrums. In the days that followed, family advice was plentiful and my youngest daughter suggested I look at catholicjobs.com.

There I found an ad for an editor position at “The Catholic Telegraph,” in Cincinnati. Although I had been a publisher for the preceding 15 years, my heart belongs to newspaper reporting and editing. Also, I had lived in Ohio once before as publisher of the daily newspaper in Norwalk. I pulled out my resume for updating and composed my application letter in my head, along with a silent recitation of the “Memorare” and “Veni Sante Spiritus.”

An old photo on the wall caught my attention. Sometime around 1985, I had taken the family to a Mississippi River lock and dam to see the Delta Queen heading upriver. I took several photos but one of the stern of the paddle-wheeler made the best composition. I had it framed on my office wall. Under a sign proclaiming “Voyages to America,” there was the legend I don’t remember noticing before: “Port of Cincinnati.”

I finished my application letter and resume and called my wife, whom I knew was sharing my concern about the mandated budget cuts. She worries about my health more than I do. I told her I had seen a “sign.” We might be moving to Cincinnati. Her response was the same as it was the many times I had been transferred or recruited over the years: “We’ll do what we have to do.”

Firing a problem employee can be difficult, but it doesn’t weigh on you. Laying off people does – unless you’re naturally inclined to being ruthless. (In that case, other problems plague you.) I did not want to have to lay off more people, especially for a company for which chasing cash flow and executive golden parachutes are the business model. But, to the point.

In a few days, I heard from the archdiocesan chancellor, Father Steve Angi. Could I come to Cincinnati for an interview? We were on our way. I started working here the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January 2012, at age 62, and have never regretted the decision.

I found the workplace environment unusually convivial and conducive to lower (normal) blood pressure. The 12-15-hour days ended, and for the first time in almost 50 years of marriage, my wife could plan a supper time.

But most of all, I was struck by the genuine “love your neighbor as you love yourself” atmosphere.

Having the archdiocesan staff as colleagues has been an honor and a privilege. The staff of “The Catholic Telegraph” daily demonstrated dedication and professionalism. Sure, we had our bad days and, yes, I have worked at newspapers where I was proud to be a part of the team. But the CT has been a unique experience.

I am proud to have been part of Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr’s administration and grateful to him and so many others here for making this my professional and personal home. I could list numerous thank-yous here, but there’s not enough newsprint.

If I can leave our readers with anything, it would be this: Read Catholic literature. Your priests and teachers should encourage it and you should pass that habit on to your children. Trust the words of Thomist author/philosopher Mortimer J. Adler: “Reading is the basic tool in the living of a good life.”

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