CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Good-bye from the editor’s desk

An issue of the Sunday Examiner goes out and in the words of poet, John Kelly, “… the word, released, rooted and roaming now, God knows what streets, hearts, homes...” And it cannot be taken back.
 
However, today, it is not just the paper going out, but the editor as well. After 15 years at the desk fresh blood is coming in to fill the position and take up the challenge of putting out Hong Kong’s Catholic News of the Week.
 
A couple of years on a diocesan education team in Australia led me to believe that one of our biggest mission challenges as a Church is to express our religion in simple, everyday language that can pass the chitchat test on the train.
 
Once when I was asked to say grace at a wedding reception one person thanked me, saying, “You spoke meaningfully about the presence of God in our lives without mentioning his name once. I thank you for that.”
 
I believe that is also the challenge of a Catholic newspaper, to tell the story of the religious expression of our lives in word pictures of faith without the technical complexity.
 
Many years ago, I read some pastoral advice from a rabbi saying, “If there is a funeral, be there; if a circus comes to town, go; if people are gathering, join; if there is a disaster, get there.”
 
It was good advice for a young priest in a parish and it is good advice for a newspaper as well and although as a small, weekly publication that seeks to provide comment and niche news, there is plenty to choose from, as our community is full of fascinating stories of faith from the daily lives of the people.
 
My experience is that most people like being interviewed and I believe it is because journalists listen to them. For some, this is a rarity. For the downtrodden, it is dignifying.
 
As religious people we are called to serve and interpreting and describing the religious dimension of life in the ebb and flow of our secular cities is the service of a Catholic newspaper.
 
As a high school student, I once went on a class visit to a newspaper office. I admiringly said to a senior journalist who was explaining that writing is a product of hard work, “But you have a gift for putting words together.”
 
He took off his glasses and said, “It is not a gift son. It is a craft—and a craft well worth your learning.”
 
While how well learned is a matter for the reader to decide, the choice of content each week belongs to the editor. 
 
At the Sunday Examiner we have adopted the pastoral priorities of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences as our editorial policy: the dialogue with religion; the dialogue with culture and the dialogue with life, often interpreted as poverty.
 
There are many stories in the big city and why choose this one and not that one is always a question. I chose because I found them interesting, and I hope you did too!
 
To those who trusted me with their stories and to those who shared information I say thank you, as I do to our staff for their fidelity and hard work.
 
And to those who have done so much for our paper by following us over the years, I trust you have been enriched.
 
A blessed New Year to all our readers and contributors. JiM

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