Two-part role

By | February 24, 2010

I was reminded again of the unique spot a journalist holds in life.

It was my sad responsibility this week to write the obituary of a priest I have known casually since I was in high school. Fr. Mike O’Rourke, an popular pastor in my home town, died as the result of injuries suffered in a fall. We were within 24 hours of press time and the obituary had to be written.

While I had not known Fr. Mike that well, I knew him and I felt a loss at his passing. I wanted, like most people who knew him, to take time to pray, remember and reflect. But the story had to be written, so my emotions had to go on hold. I needed to contact people who are closer to the loss and grieving it themselves.

That is always touchy for a journalist. But even more so for a Catholic journalist. You need to get the story and meet the deadline. But you also need to be a presence of Christ to those who are hurting. Certainly, you don’t want to add to their pain. Lastly, you want to present a fitting tribute to the deceased, in this case a respected and beloved priest with 40 years of ministry behind him.

To be a journalist, you have to put your emotions on hold.

To be a Catholic journalist, you have to keep the heart of Jesus in your work.

Did I do it well?

I don’t know. All I can do is keep the two roles in perspective and let the Holy Spirit guide.



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