Farewell to the Editor: Telli retires after 22 years of service

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Andy Telli, who served as managing editor of the Tennessee Register for 22 years, MCs the ugly sweater competition during the Christmas Staff Celebration for diocese and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville employees in December 2019. Tennessee Register file photo by Rick Musacchio

After 22 years of dedicated service to the Church and the people of the Diocese of Nashville, Andy Telli, long-time managing editor of the Tennessee Register, has officially said farewell as he enters into the next chapter of his life in the glory days of retirement. 

“I tell people all the time this is the best job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a few, and part of it is because I’ve learned so much about my faith working here,” Telli told the employees of the Diocese of Nashville during a surprise retirement party on Friday, Sept. 15, in Bishops Hall at the Catholic Pastoral Center. “But the best part is all of you and all the people I’ve gotten to meet and work with. You’ve made it so wonderful, so I want to thank all of you.

“The best part was the friendship,” he added. “I can’t express just how much I’ve enjoyed getting to know everybody.”

At the start of the party, Bishop J. Mark Spalding noted his first introduction to Telli came during his press conference at the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s Fleming Center after being named the next bishop of the diocese in 2017. 

“I’ve always said, he asked the toughest questions of all the reporters that day, which was great for me so that I could deal with some of the more demanding and challenging issues that any bishop faces in his ministry,” Bishop Spalding said. “I found all the other questions that were being asked that morning respectful, but not having the depth that Andy’s did.” 

In a separate interview, Bishop Spalding elaborated, noting that with everything Telli has done with the Register and beyond, his faith is the driving force. 

“Above all, Andy is a good Catholic man and his perspective he brings to any of his stories, any of his opinion pieces, is the view from the pew, and I always appreciate reading his articles because of that,” Bishop Spalding said. “Everybody wants to know what their church is doing, and there are many profound and good works the Church does, and Andy made sure people knew those as much as he could.

“He is a man that has served our Church well with the gifts that he has, and that, above all, is what we want to be known for when we finish a job,” he said. “I hope some will say the same of me.”

“I wish him all the best and may God’s blessings come down upon him in abundance.” 

Serving the diocese

Throughout his career with the diocese, Telli has reported on a plethora of things from parish anniversaries to school events, various Catholic organizations, and everything in between, including the deaths and elections of popes and changes in leadership within the Diocese of Nashville like the passing of the late Bishop David Choby, and the announcement and installation of Bishop Spalding. 

Telli has been a dedicated supporter of the Catholic schools in the diocese as well, making a point to highlight both education and sports, often celebrating their accomplishments right alongside them. 

“The sharing of what happens in our Catholic schools is valuable in that it allows a window into our community. Andy Telli is often present at our school, allowing others to see the incredible work of our teachers and students, the joy experienced in our celebrations and our continual growth as a community of faith,” said Jennifer Dye, interim principal of Pope John Paul II Preparatory School in Hendersonville. “From the first day of school through the end of the year, I can always expect to see Andy getting quotes and taking photos of our events. He has chronicled our growth from our earliest years and our faculty and students know and love him. 

“He also knows our school well as a parent of two alumni, Joseph, class of 2011, and Jacob, class of 2015,” she continued. “Andy is committed to the mission of Catholic schools and understands their importance as not only a reporter but a parent and community member. 

“His understanding is what has allowed him to communicate so well the stories of not only Pope John Paul II Preparatory School but all schools in the Diocese of Nashville to the greater community.” 

Paul Davis, president of Father Ryan High School, shared many of Dye’s sentiments toward the efforts Telli has continued to make in supporting Catholic schools through the Register

“There have been many voices that have shared the story of Father Ryan High School throughout my time on the campus, but for the past 22 years, Andy Telli’s voice has been a consistent, compelling, and welcome one,” Davis said. “Whether reporting on our students’ achievements, such as National Merit honors, athletic signings, and Relay for Life successes, or covering major events in the life of the school from graduation to veterans’ breakfasts to Hall of Fame inductions, Andy has helped connect our school community to the broader Middle Tennessee community. 

Telli, right, conducts interviews following the ordination of Fathers Rodolfo Rivera and Daniel Steiner, in June 2016. Tennessee Register file photo by Rick Musacchio

“He has celebrated our legacy and traditions. Moreover, he has furthered the awareness of and importance of Catholic education, not only at Father Ryan but at all the schools throughout the diocese, helping to strengthen our schools as important and distinctive members of Middle Tennessee’s educational landscape,” he said. “Thank you, Andy, for your commitment to your storytelling, for your presence on our campuses, and your commitment to Catholic education. Good luck, and may you enjoy retirement.” 

While Telli’s commitment to the parishes and schools of the diocese has always remained a large part of his vocation, he has also remained a dedicated member of the Knights of Columbus, said Fred Laufenberg, former Tennessee State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus, as both a knight and a reporter. So much so, that his service has spread across the state. 

“Andy always went out of his way to make sure all three dioceses of Tennessee, [particularly the editors] made sure there were articles in their respective papers every month with the charitable efforts we did and the things we did for the Church,” Laufenberg said. 

Then, Telli was always on hand to cover the important events, initiatives like KIND Charities, and meetings that the organization put together while also bringing his role as a knight himself to encourage ideas, Laufenberg added. “I always laughed after he interviewed someone, and his notepad is just flipping and flipping and flipping, but, what appeared to be scribbling, always reflected exactly what we said.

“We, the Tennessee Knights of Columbus, appreciate him so, so very much for what he’s done in his role to help to support us and to help us get the message out there that we are Catholic men on a faith journey to heaven,” Laufenberg added. “If you want it in a nutshell, he is such a great supporter, and we love him for supporting us so much and helping us to get that out there. That carries more weight than anything for us.” 

Bringing the joy

While the parishes and schools and organizations in which Telli served have noted his professionalism, many throughout the diocese’s Mission Support Office have noted what’s also going to be missed is the joy that he brought to the office, most notably as he served as master of ceremonies at the annual Christmas parties. 

“We will miss his enthusiasm for all the staff gatherings. He truly brought a spirit of joy into any party he was attending,” Bishop Spalding said. “Always when he was interviewing me, he was of course respectful and cordial; however, when I saw him for the first time MC a staff gathering, I was blown away with that kind of energy and enthusiasm, so he truly is a man of communion as well. He wants to bring people together in the best of ways.” 

“My favorite memories of Andy are at staff events. He ‘takes off’ his usually quiet and reserved persona, puts on his cape and ‘Super MSO Host’ appears, all sparkly, engaging, and fun,” said Gail Coates, executive assistant to the chancellor and vice chancellor, who has worked with Telli for the last three-and-a-half years. “If there were such thing as an MSO Emmy Award for Outstanding Host, he would be the first to receive it.

“Thanks, Andy, for helping make our events so lively that we don’t want them to end. I do hope that as you apply this same spark to your life of retirement that you continue to make people smile as you’ve done so generously with us,” she added. “Congratulations on 22 years of service to the diocese and ultimately to the highest of authorities.” 

Creating friendships

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. Rick Musacchio, former editor-in-chief of the Tennessee Register, and Andy Telli. Photo by Katie Peterson

While Telli brought joy and community to parties for the Mission Support Office employees, for the staff of the Tennessee Register, he brought joy and community every single day. 

“We’ve had a good run. Four times, we’ve had the top newspaper in the Catholic press in our categories. Tons of awards,” said Rick Musacchio, former editor-in-chief of the Register and now executive director of the Tennessee Catholic Conference, who has worked with Telli throughout his entire career with the diocese. “Through the Register, we served the bishop and the people of the diocese, following the guidance from the Catechism, which says, the information provided by the media is at the service of the common good because society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity.” 

“Mostly what I’m proud of beyond those awards though is working together. We built a team; the team has been together for a long time, and it has been tremendous working together.”

The most recent compilation of that team, includes Debbie Lane, creative services manager, who has worked with Telli for the last 18 years; Nancy Mattson, administrative assistant, who has worked with Telli for the last 14 years; and Erik Ritland, email specialist and audience analyst, and Katie Peterson, multimedia journalist, both of whom have worked with Telli for the last two years.  

“Over 500 deadline Thursdays working to send the paper to print. I’ve enjoyed the collaboration and friendship,” Lane said. “I’ll miss your presence. Godspeed, Andy!”

“Andy, you are a blessing to the Register team,” added Mattson. “You have made a difference in our lives. Thank you.” 

“Andy, it has truly been an honor to work with you. Your talent and intelligence have always inspired me, and your sense of humor brightens up any room you walk into,” Ritland said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Enjoy your well-earned retirement.” 

As for Peterson, “Andy, there are too many memories and good times to list like teasing office jokes or trading off getting McDonalds drinks, so instead, I’ll just thank you for your leadership. You’ve officially spoiled me as three-for-three when it comes to the best editors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working under. You’ve taught me so much, and I’m forever grateful for that. Happy retirement. It’s well deserved. And I’ll only say this once, Go Bengals.” 

Musacchio, however, summed it up best for the entire team, as he quoted a much beloved movie amongst the Register team, “The Godfather” series. 

“For all of us, for you Andy particularly, the most important [quote] is ‘Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.’ That you’ve been to all of us.”

Subscribe to our email list

Keep your finger on the pulse of Catholic life in Middle Tennessee by subscribing to the
weekday E-Register here.

* indicates required