Each October, for the past half dozen years, I have made a two-day visit to Washington, D.C., to attend a meeting of the CPA-CNS Liaison Committee.
The acronyms represent the Catholic Press Association and Catholic News Service. Catholic New York is a member of the first and a subscriber to the second. Regular readers are familiar with the CNS taglines at the end of stories in this newspaper. They signify that the piece originated with Catholic News Service.
You can trust me when I tell you that the CNS name means a lot to this Catholic newspaper editor, and I hope it does to you, too. CNS, as a Catholic news publishing service, is part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Our committee meeting is held at conference headquarters just down the road from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic corridor of northeast D.C.
It also means a great deal to me to serve on that committee. My duties include corresponding with the editors, and other clients from my region, which is New York state. We often ask them to respond to a survey related to CNS operations.
Catholic newspaper and magazine editors, usually about 15 or 20, come from around the country and Canada to attend. It is a chance to renew acquaintances and learn more about what everyone is doing. We hear from many of the CNS editors, including Rome bureau chief Cindy Wooden, generally via video hookup, as well as Editor in Chief Greg Erlandson and other editors at the main office.
We also hear from experts who address the group. This year’s speakers were Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vt., the current chairman of the bishops’ communications committee, and Dr. Francesco C. Cesareo, the president of Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., and the chairman of the National Review Board.
I feel I can safely speak for the other editors on the liaison committee when I say that we all treasure having this chance to work closely with our professional colleagues. As CNS clients, we depend on the news service, especially its national and international Church reporting, so we have a vested interest in helping CNS be the best it can.
The liaison committee is well stocked with veteran editors, who each know their stuff and bring a lot to discussions. You may come in right after deadline, or just have driven five hours to get there for the beginning of the first day, as I did. Once you arrive, however, you want to put forward your best.
I have great respect for all of the editors on the committee. It’s just that kind of group. One of the members was Mary Anne Castranio, the executive editor of the Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. In addition to her duties at her paper, she served as vice president of the Catholic Press Association and the association’s Southern regional representative.
Tragically, Miss Castranio, 61, collapsed after the first day’s meeting and she died in the hospital just before we concluded our meeting. The loss was stunning and left us almost without words.
Just a day earlier, she had greeted me with a smile and told me about a vacation adventure that one of her colleagues, whom I know well, had just enjoyed. A similar scene played out nearly every time she saw me. It was thoughtful of her to remember a special connection I had with one of her co-workers. She brought a lot of joy and a deep faith to our committee discussions. It was a natural part of who she was.
My friend told me that Mary Anne really enjoyed the camaraderie of her Catholic Press colleagues. She made that very apparent. Ours is a tight-knit community, and we were blessed to work with such a talented and caring leader.