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Editorial: In memoriam
We at Our Sunday Visitor are going to miss Bob Lockwood.
He was one of the good ones — real, a truth-teller and a man of the Church, through and through.
Lockwood’s first job after attending Fairfield University in New York was as an entry-level editor for OSV, for which he was hired in 1971. He used to tell the story of driving from New York to Indiana following college graduation in late May. He worked his way up the ladder, becoming editor of this newspaper, editor-in-chief and, finally, president of OSV’s publishing division. After his departure in 1999, he continued writing his “Catholic Journal” column for Our Sunday Visitor, the final installment of which appeared in the March 3 issue.
Upon hearing of Lockwood’s death, one reader wrote in to say his columns had been “spiritually refreshing and down to earth.” Wrote another: “Bob’s column is always precious because it comes from his heart and his life and his gut. As I’m typing, I feel like I’m remembering a beloved kinsman.” “His blend of faith, family, history, humor and more have made me laugh, cry and strengthen my own faith. He will be greatly missed,” wrote a third faithful reader. And there were many more. Lockwood’s words touched so many lives and hearts, and to many he felt like a member of the family.
As an editorial board — a board on which Lockwood himself sat for so many years — we have been reflecting on his personal legacy, what he brought to the Church and how the rest of us in Catholic media can benefit from his example.
Lockwood’s strong understanding of history, especially American Catholic history, gave him a solid foundation and context for telling the story of the American Church in the 20th century. Not only did he know it, he had lived it firsthand growing up in the ’50s and ’60s in a Catholic enclave in Yonkers, New York. (He would add here: “Go Mets!”) That experience never left him, and throughout his career he embodied a cultural Catholicity and Catholic identity that seems all but extinct now.
He knew the American Catholic landscape backwards and forwards, knowledge that made him a trustworthy and revered voice on the subject. Lockwood brought an honest intelligence into the conversation, recognizing the many cultural struggles that the Church faced — not only in the first half of the 20th century, when Catholics struggled with persecution, but also the second half, during which Catholics, in the name of assimilation, too easily relinquished the religious identity that had so deeply formed him.
Lockwood valued serving the Church, and during his professional career, which included many years working with the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he sought out and cherished those opportunities. He saw Our Sunday Visitor less as a corporation and more as an instrument with which to do the work of Christ.
But most of all, Lockwood was loyal to the Church, to Jesus Christ and to the truth. He not only had a love of the Faith; he wanted others to love it. He was a born evangelist. Even during times of crisis, he was able take the long view and see the end game. Yet as much as he loved the Church, he also knew that the institution on this earth, with all of its challenges, is not all there is, nor is it perfect. Instead, he had his sights set on heaven.
The Church needs more people like Bob Lockwood, as does the Catholic press: knowledgeable, intelligent, faithful, with a strong Catholic identity and a heart built for service. Rest in peace, Bob. We will miss your words.
OSV Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott Richert, York Young