This farewell editorial from former Witness editor, Msgr. Thomas Ralph, is reprinted from the June 30, 2002 issue, shortly before his retirement.
Readers of The Witness may have noticed in the appointments for the archdiocese in April that I am to finally retire as of the first week of July. Since The Witness does not publish during the week of July 4, this edition will be the last in which I am to be involved. It has been a long tenure. I believe the longest in the history of the newspaper. I suspect that those in the administration of the archdiocese did not know what else was to be done with me. It has been an unusual priesthood in that I spent just over a year in full-time parish ministry and the remainder of the 46 years of ordination with the paper. The 13 members of the ordination class of 1956 have all had a rather unusual priesthood. We came along at the time of the establishment of the Central Catholic High School system and most of us were slated for assignment in the school system. Over the years most of our class graduated to parish work and have now retired, with the exception of four who have remained on assignment. My retirement comes late in years, the reason being that it was difficult to find someone willing to take the job.
So it is time. I do anticipate some difficulty in adjustment after keeping a schedule that was programmed for each day of the week. Of course, I have enjoyed the work. Many major events in the history of the church and country have taken place over those four decades. The most notable was the Second Vatican Council which changed our perception and service in the church. I leave during the time of another major event in US church history, the crisis of clergy abuse and the reform and renewal of the church once more in history.
It has occurred to me over the years that the last three editorial writers and the last two editors of The Witness have died while in that position. If I make it through the next week, I will have broken that chain of events. I am most grateful to those who went before me and those with whom I have worked over the years. They were dedicated editors and staff and essential to the weekly production of the paper. I deeply appreciate the four archbishops under whom I have worked for their support and the freedom they have allowed me as the editor when their opinions may not have always been quite what the editor was putting forth for the readers.
Finally, I am grateful for the faithful Witness readership. There are many long-time readers who have given us their support, suggestions, and sometimes their criticism. It was all taken into consideration. The Witness is now being placed in the capable hands of Sister Carol Hoverman, OSF, who has been the communications director for the archdiocese for a number of years. She continues in that position in addition to the editorship of the archdiocesan newspaper. We all wish her well and assure her of our support. It is a challenging and rewarding ministry.
Again, I thank all of you for the years of support and ask your prayers that I will be able to continue to be of service to the church which has been my call. — TJR
Cover image: The late Msgr. Thomas Ralph, Witness editor for 22 years before Sister Carol Hoverman (deceased) took the position in 2002, looks at an old issue of the newspaper from the archives with his successor. (TH Media photo)