I was honored to receive the St. Francis de Sales Diocesan Communicator’s Award last week from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio at our annual celebration of World Communications Day.
In my acceptance remarks, I mentioned how happy I was to see so many priests in attendance because throughout my entire life I have been indebted to Brooklyn priests.
Since this issue is The Tablet’s annual salute to priest-jubilarians, I would like to share some of the things I said about priests.
My interactions with priests began on the day I was baptized in St. Alphonsus Church in Greenpoint.
When I was in the third grade, I memorized all the Latin responses to Mass and became an altar boy. It was then that I began getting to know priests even better – serving their Masses, hanging around the sacristy.
From them and encouraged by them, I learned about Cathedral Prep, where every teacher I had in the classroom was a priest.
They were a tremendous group of men, who not only taught, but also took a personal interest in the students. They opened the gym on free days, and organized trips into Manhattan. Some of the names I quickly recall are Fathers Ed Troike, Tom Brady, Joe Martusciello and Ed Breen. Also Father Jack Casey, who will be 90 later this year, and still helps out at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Queens Village.
As a matter of fact, I did not have a lay teacher until the third year at Cathedral College in Douglaston. It was a visiting professor from Queens College. We all aced his course. It was a breeze compared to what the house profs put us through.
I got my interview at The Tablet through an assist from Father Doug Brown, with whom I worked in Epiphany Youth Center in South Williamsburg – today a trendy neighborhood, not so then.
Priests were my biggest contacts when I started at The Tablet. I could reach out to former schoolmates, professors, and the more I got to know, the larger my base of operations became. I still take pride in trying to be as familiar with the golden jubilarians as well as the newly ordained.
It was a priest of Brooklyn – Msgr. Joe Funaro – who introduced me to my wife.
In a few weeks, I will assume a new title with The Tablet, that of Editor Emeritus. One of my prime responsibilities will be serving as the face of our new circulation and subscriptions plan. As I do so, I will once again be reaching out to the priests of the diocese for assistance in attempting to turn around a circulation plan that is more than 50 years old.
I’ll be visiting parishes and talking up the need for individual subscriptions to The Tablet rather than relying on parishes paying for the circulation. It’s an ambitious plan, but we’re confident that we can do, with an assist from our priests who have supported us so well.
My reflections on priests, I’m sure, are similar to many that our readers might have. Our priests have touched our lives in so many ways. We’re so grateful to them and we’re happy to be publishing this edition that salutes those who are celebrating significant anniversaries this year. Ad multos annos!