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Inside NCR

A new look, a neglected expert, books -- and a resurrection, too

I mentioned here some weeks ago that we were redesigning the paper. Finally, I can tell you the launch date of the new design -- next week, to be exact, the Oct. 2 issue.

If you love NCR as it is, don’t worry. We don’t plan anything bizarre. Readers will still recognize the paper and feel comfortable with it. But more about all this next week.

Opinion Editor John Allen, meanwhile, asked me to remind you that he has not yet received your “best book” selection of 1998. He thinks you may be working too hard on it. Don’t sweat it, he admonishes, it doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, though if that’s what you’ve written, it’s OK too.

It may be as short as one line or as long as 300 words. Preferably about one book only, and preferably a recent book. Supply title and author, publisher and price if you know them. Send your choice of most amusing, inspiring or disturbing book to “Best Book,” PO Box 419281, Kansas City, MO 64141, or E-mail to opinion@natcath.org.

I was guilty of a serious omission here last week. Word reached me that, as Special Projects Editor Pam Schaeffer was preparing her scintillating article on baseball’s year of grace, she had reason, on several occasions, to consult with local baseball aficionado James Roberts, son of NCR’s Managing Editor Tom Roberts, about obscure details and nuances of the national game.

James’ invaluable contribution is hereby acknowledged with gratitude. The bad news is this former New Jersey kid is a Yankees fan -- but nobody’s perfect.

Two long letters -- well, the same long letter sent twice -- from Carol Jankunas leave me no option but to mention St. Casimir’s Church in Amsterdam, N.Y., closed by the bishop in 1996, which celebrated its “triumphant resurrection” Sept. 13.

NCR has reported more parish closings than openings in recent years. Frequently these were stories of dissension and bitterness. What is often overlooked is the profound personal impact such closings have, not only on current parishioners but on others who may have long since moved away but carry with them the indelible mark and memory of the cradle of their Catholic faith.

“My grandfather, Joseph Jankunas, was a Lithuanian immigrant and he donated the land at 260 E. Main St. as a site for the construction of the church,” writes Jankunas, who has meanwhile moved to Colorado. “My parents were both baptized and married in that church, my sister and I were both baptized there, and my father was buried there, so it is an integral part of our family’s history and culture, as well as that of the people of Lithuanian descent in Amsterdam.”

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 1998