Anne M. Buckley, who served as editor in chief of Catholic New York from 1991 to 2000 and was one of the founders of the archdiocesan newspaper a decade earlier, died April 23. She was 87.
Ms. Buckley, along with Gerald M. Costello, the founding editor in chief, and Arthur McKenna, the general manager, were the team that established Catholic New York under Cardinal Terence Cooke in 1981.
During the next two decades, first as managing editor and then as editor in chief, Ms. Buckley helped to position Catholic New York as the standard bearer among Catholic diocesan weeklies in the United States.
At her retirement in late 2000, Ms. Buckley said she found it rewarding to be part of a newspaper well received from the start “by its readers and its peers in the Catholic and general press, a fact that enhanced the influence of the Church and contributed to its mission of evangelization.”
“The job never lost its excitement,” Ms. Buckley said at the time. “I will look back on it all with a measure of satisfaction.”
In 2001, Ms. Buckley received the Catholic Press Association’s highest honor, the St. Francis de Sales Award, which she called “a great honor and a beautiful crown to my career.” Her award nomination noted she had made “many personal sacrifices to assure that Catholic New York remained a flagship paper for the Catholic press.”
Ms. Buckley, ever the editor, said the first-place honors for general excellence and other prizes CNY took home in the CPA journalism competition that year were “even more precious because they represent the team effort that has gone into making Catholic New York the top diocesan paper in the country.”
She was a “lifer” in the Catholic Press, having served on the staff of The Advocate, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Newark, for 29 years, beginning as a reporter right out of college and rising to managing editor, before coming to Catholic New York.
She was known for an elegant writing style most commonly evidenced in her Editor’s Report columns, which were regularly cited for distinction as well as being popular with CNY readers.
Her service as editor in chief fell almost entirely during Cardinal John O’Connor’s tenure as Archbishop of New York.
In a column about the cardinal, written at the time of his 80th birthday in January 2000, just months before his death that May, Ms. Buckley captured him this way:
“Cardinal O’Connor has looked for the best in all of us. It’s not always easy to do that kind of job. But those of whom he has expected much are those who have grown to love him most. It showed during the 80th birthday celebrations.”
The column was headlined, “New York Loves a Winner,” a phrase she undoubtedly selected. As an editor, Ms. Buckley always searched for a better way to tell the story, another question to ask or one more lead to pursue.
Msgr. Peter G. Finn, the pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish on Staten Island and dean of the Staten Island Deanery, worked closely with Ms. Buckley when he was director of communications in the archdiocese, 1983-1989.
“She was extremely talented and perceptive and very exacting in her reporting,” Msgr. Finn recalled. “Her writing had a comforting and serene flow to it, even in times of crisis. She was careful and precise.”
He also cited Ms. Buckley’s sense of loyalty “to her craft, and to the people she worked with and cared about,” and her “great sense of humor.”
Msgr. Finn was one of the concelebrants of Ms. Buckley’s April 27 Funeral Mass at St. Aloysius Church in Caldwell, N.J.
Patrice Liquori, who was an intern under Ms. Buckley in the summers of 1986-1987, during her student days at Manhattan College, and later was a freelance writer for Catholic New York, called her mentor’s death “a true loss.”
“I can’t think of a time in my professional working life when Anne wasn’t a part of it,” Ms. Liquori said. “She was tough, but fair.”
In 1994, the Ladies of Charity of the Archdiocese of New York honored Ms. Buckley with their St. Louise de Marillac award. Cardinal O’Connor, writing in his own “From My Viewpoint” column in CNY, said Ms. Buckley’s designation “was no mean feat for any newspaper editor in chief, secular or religious.”
The cardinal went on to say that he did not universally agree with CNY’s editorials, or its news judgment. However, his overall assessment was that Ms. Buckley published “a top-drawer, interesting, readable, sometimes provocative, always thoroughly Catholic newspaper.”
He ended by citing Ms. Buckley as a “true professional, true Catholic, true newswoman.”
A native of Glen Ridge, N.J., she was a graduate of Caldwell College with a degree in English. In 1999, the college awarded her an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
For many years, Ms. Buckley was the caregiver to her elderly mother, Kathryn, who predeceased her.
Ms. Buckley was buried in Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Montclair, N.J.
Friends and former colleagues are invited to remember Ms. Buckley at a Mass in St. John the Evangelist Church in Manhattan, Wednesday, May 29, at 12:10 p.m.