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Inside NCR

As journalists, we at NCR pride ourselves on aiming to stay on top of the news, ever aware of “The Big Picture” But sometimes the news that’s most compelling is very close at hand. For the NCR team, that is certainly the case this week.

Regular readers know that “this space” belongs to NCR editor Tom Roberts. The reason you’re seeing my face and words instead of his is that Tom is not in the newsroom, but in the hospital, having undergone successful heart surgery on Tuesday, Oct. 8. He had gone to the doctor the previous week after experiencing some bouts of chest pain. The diagnosis was that his overall cardiac health is good and he had no heart attack, but he needed multiple bypass surgery.

Those of you who know Tom Roberts, either personally or through the pages of NCR, know that he not only is a consummate journalist; he also has a passionate love for the church -- the church as it is, warts and all, but also the church as it could and should be.

The night before Tom’s “grand opening,” a small group of us gathered at the Roberts home to send him off with good wishes, prayer and a sacramental anointing service. During the shared reflections and prayer for Tom, I was particularly struck by a prayer offered by Celebration editor Pat Marrin. Pat reflected on that powerful but mysterious text of Paul, that we believers somehow make up through our sufferings what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

For me, that verse from Colossians (1:24) has always ranked right up there with the mystery of the Trinity: How can we puny mortals presume to add anything to the saving work Christ carried out on the cross? We may not know how it happens, but we believe, in some mysterious way, that we and Christ are in this business of healing the world together. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that at a time when the church’s heart is really hurting, suffering “blockages” and is, at so many levels, unhealthy, Tom -- and countless people of faith around the globe -- should be invited to personally “walk the talk” and help bring about healing.

The NCR team is looking forward to Tom’s full and speedy recovery, and to his rejoining us soon in the newsroom. In the meantime, we’ll try to “do him proud” by continuing our pursuit of excellence in journalism with each passing issue. You can’t keep a good newsman down. (We know! He had been in the hospital room only a few minutes when he discovered the phone had a data port where he could hook up his laptop.) We also know that Tom and his family, as well as his NCR family, are grateful for your prayers, too.

If you’d like to send him get-well wishes, mail them to: National Catholic Reporter, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111-1203.

-- Pat Morrison

My e-mail address is pmorrison@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, October 18, 2002