Bless her heart

Friday, December 07, 2018 - Updated: 3:17 pm


It’s getting to the point where I hate anything that has to do with a phone other than talking and listening.

I can’t get a slice of pizza without somebody trying to give me an app to order from my alleged smartphone. When I tell them I don’t use apps they look at me as if I told them I don’t use pants.

Other than my laptop — which is older than most grammar school kids — my one concession to electronic media is e-mail. It’s just too good for keeping in touch with old friends who might get lost for any number of years.

A few months back I got a group e-mail. Usually these are shared bad jokes or cat videos. But this was different. It was from that rare select group that would have me — lifetime honorary members of the Catholic press. Woody Allen said that 70 percent of success is just showing up. I showed up.

It’s quite a group. Fifteen of us who go back through most of the popes of the 20th century. It’s an eclectic gathering. Editors, publishers, executives, book sellers, ad guys and writers.

The e-mail was just a hey-what-are-you-doing kind of thing, and a few took advantage to share news about travel and family.

One of the guys in the group knew me from the first. He was sipping coffee at the lunch table when I was a 21-year-old being interviewed by his father for my first Catholic press job.

It struck me how much these guys are people of hope. Not wishy-washy “hope,” but determined hope. They love where their life was; they are delighted where their life is; and confidently hopeful where it is going.

Another e-mail arrived just a few weeks ago. A sad one.

Mary Anne Castranio worked at the Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. She was also vice president of the Catholic Press Association.

She was in Washington, D.C. for a meeting between Catholic press staff and Catholic News Service that provides stories and such nationally and internationally.

They were heading out to dinner the night before getting started. She collapsed, and died the next morning. Probably a heart attack. She was 61.

She left behind a Chinese girl she had adopted years ago. The girl — Amy — is now a senior in college. Castranio was devoted to her daughter and joined Families With Children From China for support and a desire to root her daughter in Chinese culture. “Amy was her life,” a friend said.

I confess that I barely knew her. But she was clearly one of those people always there to serve the church faithfully in ways big and small. As I am sure she would have told you if asked, she was one of a legion of such souls in the Catholic press. Like the honorary lifers.

My old friends aren’t journalists who happened to be Catholic. They are Catholics who became journalists out of faith and love. Mary Anne would fit right in.


Lockwood is former general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic and diocesan communications director.

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