Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Last Waltz: Goodbye, Catholic New York

I met Nancy, my wife, in the 1980s at a newspaper called Catholic New York.

That paper published its last edition today. Its editor, my friend John Woods, published this informative article about the publication's history.

In it, he mentions two editors I worked for at the start of my career: Anne Buckley and Gerald M. ("Jerry") Costello.

Both are now gone.

When Anne died in 2019, I posted about her life and legacy.

Anne was a wise woman; she suspected I wasn't good enough to marry Nancy.

Nevertheless, she wrote a charming column about our wedding day. There's an image of it below, and if you can't read the words in the photo, the words are posted here:

At Jerry's funeral in 2021, recalling that he recommended me for my first job and subsequently hired me twice, I learned he had sponsored many other journalists' careers... including another friend I met at Catholic New York, Monica Yehle, who sat beside me, and the Catholic Standard reporter in the pew behind us, and reporters, columnists, and editors who posted similar expressions of thanks on social media.

Jerry's obituary, written by his daughter Eileen, was wonderfully detailed:

His eulogy, delivered by his son Bob, focused on the impact of Jerry's life on his six children, 21 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Bob also spoke of Jerry's love of music, concluding with lyrics from Dan Fogelberg's "Leader of the Band" and applause from the congregation.

The photo here, from the funeral Mass program, includes Jerry's written reflection as he neared the end of his life and battled with Parkinson's disease.

The words in the photo are too muddy to read there, and Jerry's words were always precise. So here's what he wrote:

"The special memory I keep is one where I'm part of a band -- a big one, of course -- on a night when everything is going just right. All the sections are working together, and the five saxes that I'm leading are playing in perfect harmony, the music we're making is so good, so joyous that the crowd on the floor in front of us stops dancing -- just so they can listen. It may not have happened all the time, but often enough. And when it did, it brought a feeling of excited contentment that I remember still."


To this day, I still remember, and miss, everyone at Catholic New York.

I appreciate that the cover of its last issue this week features a photo of St. Patrick's Cathedral, just like its first issue did. The photo is by Chris Sheridan, one of the most talented photographers I've ever had the honor to work with.

So I guess that's an appropriate "30."

And yes, Anne, we still have your wedding present. It's displayed proudly in our dining room.

It plays a waltz, and the music is forever haunting and joyous.

Thank you, Catholic New York.

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