June 8, 2018

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Seventy years of continuous work for the Catholic press

John F. FinkThis week, I’m celebrating 70 years of continuous work for the Catholic press. I feel sure that’s a record, although no one keeps track of such things. Put in materialistic terms, I have been paid, although not much at times, for 70 uninterrupted years, first by the Catholic publishing company Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) for 36 years, and then by The Criterion for 34 years. OSV is located in Huntington, Ind., near Fort Wayne.

Seventy years ago, I graduated from Huntington Catholic High School, and I started working full time at OSV the following Monday. (This was when school years started after Labor Day and ended in June.) I was only 16 when I graduated and thought I was too young to start college, so I worked as a proofreader for 15 months. OSV was a large publishing company that employed four proofreaders during an era of hot-metal composition.

By the time I entered the University of Notre Dame in 1949, I was doing more than proofreading for OSV. At that time, it was receiving about 100 manuscripts a week from writers, and someone had to give them a first reading. So during my four years at Notre Dame, each week I’d receive a package of manuscripts that I would read and either reject with a nicely-worded pink slip or return to the OSV editors.

After graduating from Notre Dame in 1953, I returned to full-time work at OSV until I was called into the Air Force in 1954. By that time, I was writing a weekly column for youth called “Youth Organized,” encouraging young people to organize. While in the Air Force, I continued to write that column but also continued reading those manuscripts.

I resumed full-time work at OSV in 1956. After a few months, I became editor of Family Digest, one of OSV’s periodicals, while also doing editorial work for its weekly newspaper. I edited Family Digest for young families like the one my wife Marie and I started. I condensed articles about family life from other periodicals, much as Reader’s Digest did.

In 1967, I was asked to give up editorial duties to serve on the business end of the company, as marketing manager over the circulation and advertising departments. In 1972, I was named executive vice president, and in 1976 president and publisher.

By 1984, I knew it was time for me to get back into editorial work instead of the business end. So when I learned that Jesuit Father Tom Widner was stepping down as editor of The Criterion, I applied for the job. By this time, all but one of our seven children were out of high school. Archbishop Edward O’Meara hired me, and I began work in Indianapolis in July.

At that time, the normal retirement age for lay workers for the archdiocese was 65. Therefore, I retired as editor in December 1996 when I reached 65. I was pleased that I was given the title of editor emeritus and permitted to write this column and editorials.

It was back to part-time work for the past 22 years. †

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