The Deacon's Bench

Not long ago, I stumbled upon a letter from Thomas Merton, who offered this advice to a man who was thinking about a career change:

I would say there is one basic idea that should be kept in mind in all the changes we make in life, whether of career or anything else. We should decide not in view of better pay, higher rank, “getting ahead,” but in view of becoming more real, entering more authentically into direct contact with life, living more as a free and mature human person, able to give myself more to others, able to understand myself and the world better.

That made wonderful sense to me. And perhaps it informed a decision I made just a couple of weeks ago.

As I turn the page of the calendar and begin another month, I’m also turning a page in my professional career. This is my last day at CBS News. After 26 years, I’m “putting out into the deep,” and embarking on something utterly new. I’ve accepted an offer from the Diocese of Brooklyn to serve as News Director for its expanding cable channel. The channel will be re-launched on December 8 as NET, or New Evangelization Television. An important component will be a daily Catholic news program that we plan to debut in the spring.

It won’t be easy leaving a place that has been my home for more than half my life. And in all the boxes I’ve packed over the last few days, I’ve also socked away a lot of memories. Every chipped coffee mug and crinkled credential and box of unused business cards tells part of my story.

But this move is part of my story, too. Maybe the most important part.

Here, my two worlds — journalism and faith — at last can intersect. I can stop juggling two hats, and just wear one.

Among other things, I imagine it will be easier to keep my hair combed.

This new position affords me a tremendous opportunity not only to spread news, but to spread The Good News. And I can’t wait.

I’ll keep you posted as things develop. For those who are wondering: yes, “The Bench” will stay open. The blogging will continue. And: you can see the channel — now known as The Prayer Channel — in its present incarnation right here.

I’d appreciate any spare prayers you might be able to offer for Your Humble Blogger and this new enterprise.

And whisper one or two for my wife, too — she has to live with me, after all, and how she manages that is another of the unexplained mysteries of God, right up there with snow on Mars.

Finally, I can’t help but feel heartened that this turn in my life is happening on the feast of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, the patroness of missionaries. What better guide for the start of a new mission in life?

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