The NEWS with Tim O'Callaghan


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Like a book, our lives have multiple chapters

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009 5 p.m.

In the book of life, some people open and close chapters in their lives on a regular basis. However, I'm the type who doesn't do extreme change well — which probably explains my 28 years with the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News and a 30-year relationship with the Las Vegas Sun.

It was in July 1979 that I first walked into the Sun mailroom to help insert the paper. That is the process of placing advertising circulars into each newspaper. It was a hot, sweaty job, not to mention dirty. But it supplemented my other part-time job making ice cream for Swenson's, which was, in contrast, a much cleaner environment.

In late 1980, Hank Greenspun and my dad, Mike O'Callaghan, struck a handshake deal to buy the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News from Morry Zenoff. It was an interesting proposition for my mom and dad for many reasons. I think for him, the best reason was that he wrote sports stories for the Home News while he was a teacher at Basic High School.

By July 1981, my career as a Swenson's Kreme Meister ended and my immersion into newspapering began as a runner, carrier, route manager, distributor, graphic artist, photographer, proofreader, copywriter, copy editor, circulation manager, general manager, columnist, publisher and finally owner. My career has been influenced by many who helped me grow in ways they may have not known, such as Lorna Kesterson, John Dailey, Paul Szydelko, Jess Dixon, Burt Buy, Teddy Fenton, Bill Harbour, Sandy Thompson, Goldie Begley, Ruthe Deskin, Don Ploke, Tony Blei, Bob Morgan, Sylvia Field, Ray Brewer, D.J. Allen, Marilyn Pearson, Keith Foutz, John Peterson, Sherm Frederick, Doreen Reynolds, June Andrews, Jack McCloskey, Tony Hughes, Jim Sanford and every associate who trusted in me.

There are the more obvious influences, such as my loving bride, whom I would have never met had I not worked at the paper; my mom and dad; my brothers and sisters, especially Colleen who co-published the newspapers with me; and any number of the Greenspuns. I would be remiss if I failed to mention my column editor, Jean Reid Norman, who helped me become an award-winning columnist, as well as my most staunch critics. By the way, Jean's mother was my English professor at the College of Southern Nevada.

You must be wondering where this is leading, and if you've hung in reading thus far it is very simple. I'm closing a chapter in my life. On July 4, 2009, I sold my remaining shares of the newspapers to the Greenspun family.

This was not an easy decision for me or my family. Our family counted success through the lives of our employees — how many children and grandchildren were born, how many kids graduated, how many entered college — and we celebrated the lives of those who have gone before us. So many have touched our lives coming through our doors and then leaving to become bigger and better people.

However, when our parents passed in 2004, something changed in me. It had been brewing for a couple of years. My parents had planted a seed in me by example and, unbeknownst to me, my dad was watering, fertilizing and nurturing it.

On the night of Wednesday, March 3, 2004, I had gone to my parents' home to discuss the possibility of them watching our children while Donna and I went to Phoenix to explore entering a Diaconate formation program. It would require many weekends over years for me to reach ordination as a deacon.

My dad looked at me in his most serious demeanor, then smiled and said, "Your mom and I would be happy to watch the kids." He paused and then said, "You know, you really need to talk to the Bishop about bringing a deacon program here."

As I got up to leave, he gave me one last, deeply personal instruction that remains in my heart and I shall not share here.

On Friday, March 5, 2004, God called him home while he was attending daily Mass. The seed dad had nurtured so carefully sprouted on that day, too.

Before the Funeral Mass began, I told Bishop Joseph Pepe about my last conversation with Dad and how we needed a formation program in Las Vegas. The bishop looked at me for a moment and then said, "God works in mysterious ways. We are forming a Diaconate formation program with the Jesuits right now."

Five years have passed, and this weekend Donna and I will attend a retreat with several other brother candidates and their wives, marking the beginning of our fourth year of formation studies.

That little seed my father planted has grown into a tree, though a small tree. In the last three years, I have worked part-time for Bishop Pepe coordinating the Social Action Ministry and editing the diocesan newspaper, the Desert Clarion. I have also worked with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, advocating for social justice on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised in our society and around the world. Last year, I was appointed as a consultant to the U.S. Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice, Peace and Human Development, which made me a member with voting rights along with the bishops.

Two years ago, I traveled to Africa with Catholic Relief Services to observe food security operations, HIV-AIDS programs and how U.S. policies affect them. These experiences have made it clear where I am headed next.

Newspapering has been a wonderful chapter in my life, and many of you have contributed to it. However, the time has come to close this chapter and pick up writing the new chapter in my life.

This week is my final submission to the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News in the form of One Man's View. Next week, I will continue working for the Diocese of Las Vegas and begin working in a local parish, where it is my prayer that the seed (the light of Jesus) planted by mom and dad will bear fruit.

Tim O’Callaghan writes a regular blog at