A word of thanks from one blessed man

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The Office of Media and Evangelization for the Diocese of Nashville held a surprise retirement party for long-time managing editor of the Tennessee Register, Andy Telli, on Friday, Sept. 15, in Bishops Hall at the Catholic Pastoral Center. Bishop J. Mark Spalding, diocesan employees and priests were there to bid Telli a fond farewell following 22 years of dedicated service to the Diocese of Nashville. Bishop Spalding prays over Andy. Photo by Katie Peterson

Twenty-two years. It seems like a long time, but it’s gone by so very quickly.

I sit here at my desk at the Catholic Pastoral Center just hours away from the end of my time as a full-time employee and the beginning of my retirement. As I look back over my career and life, I can only marvel at all the blessings God has showered upon me.

I’ve been a newspaper writer and editor – either as a student or an employee – for more than 50 years. And in that time, including stints at the Oak Hills High School student newspaper, the University of Cincinnati News Record, the Boone County (Kentucky) Recorder, the Bowling Green (Kentucky) Daily News, the late Nashville Banner, the Cincinnati Enquirer briefly, and finally at the Tennessee Register, I’ve worked with some truly wonderful and gifted journalists who I am privileged to call friends. I’ve learned so much from all of them about the craft of writing and editing, as well as our responsibility to serve our readers.

What makes being a journalist so interesting is everything you learn about the world around you as you gather information for an article, and even more so all the interesting people you meet along the way. The farm family that butchered their hogs in the traditional way, the arm wrestling champion, artists and musicians, politicians, builders, workers who moved hundreds of miles from their home to take a job at a new car assembly plant, people rebuilding after a tornado, teachers inspiring their students, coaches who not only train athletes but form young men and women, history makers, and world shakers.

In my years at the Tennessee Register, I’ve had some incredible opportunities. 

I covered St. John Paul II when he visited St. Louis, watched him pass by me in the popemobile just 30 feet away, and heard him urge a hockey arena full of young people to “be not afraid.” In what other job could I have found myself so close to a pope and a saint?

Or an actual miracle? It was an honor to tell the story of the miraculous cure of Michael Schachle that led to the beatification of Blessed Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, and to watch his family surround him with love and gratitude for the miracle his life is. 

Or interview people who helped change this city, this state, this country by integrating Father Ryan High School and standing up to the immorality of racism?

Or learned of the enduring impact religious sisters have had on our community through their service to others and to Christ?

Or heard the history of Irish sheepherders and German farmers who took their hopes and dreams to McEwen and Lawrence County, bolstered by their faith, and created Catholic pockets that still thrive today?

Or met so many priests who have touched the lives of so many people with their faithfulness, their prayerfulness, their holiness?

Or befriended so many lay people who are committed to bringing the Catholic faith into every corner of their lives, in ways both small and grand? 

I’ve tried my best to collect their stories and share them with our readers.

I’ve often told people that working for the Diocese of Nashville and the Tennessee Register has been the best job I’ve ever had. There are a lot of practical things that have made this job so enjoyable for me, but I’m sure there are many places that could have offered those kinds of benefits. What has made this job so special is the opportunity it has given me to learn about and deepen my faith. I’ve been catechized in ways I never imagined before Rick Musacchio hired me as his associate editor, and I will be forever grateful.

I’ve been blessed to work with so many people at the diocese who are professionals committed to serving the faithful of Middle Tennessee and to helping the Church thrive and prosper, none more so than my colleagues and friends at the Register and the Office of Media and Evangelization, past and present. It’s been an honor to share this mission with them.

I’ve been humbled to meet so many readers who have had a kind word about my work for the Register. I can’t adequately express how those words have buoyed me. Although I am retiring, I hope to continue as a freelance writer, and I hope I will continue to see old friends and new across the diocese.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I have not traveled this path alone. Through good times and bad, I have been blessed to have my family by my side, my beautiful wife Suzette and my wonderful sons, Joey and Jacob. They have enriched my life in ways too numerous to count.

The words “thank you” seem too paltry to express what all of you have meant to me, but it is all I have. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for I am truly one blessed man.

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