‘It’s been my heart the last 16 years’

Denver Catholic Register editor retires

After 16 years of sharing the good news through the Denver Catholic Register, editor Roxanne King is retiring Oct. 1.

“It’s truly been a labor of love to get to tell the stories of God’s people today,” said King, 57, from her office on the campus of the St. John Paul II Center Sept. 24. “There is no more meaningful work than evangelization—announcing the love and light and hope of Christ.

“It’s been my heart the last 16 years,” she continued. “Now it’s time to go … to take the countless blessings and graces I’ve received here and to share them with others elsewhere.”

King started as the paper’s lone reporter on Sept. 30, 1998, although readers first saw her byline in the Register three years earlier when working as a freelance writer and finishing her degree at Metropolitan State College. At the time, she had two teenage sons at home, Rory and Levi, now 34 and 33.

“I was a very happy homemaker for 17 years before entering journalism,” she said. “I was the room mother, drove on the field trips and was a parish catechist for many years.”

She also facilitated RCIA classes, guided couples through marriage preparation with her husband Chuck, presented at couple retreats and worked part time as a parish receptionist. It was her love of reading that prompted her to major in English literature, and she selected journalism as minor.

King earned her bachelor’s degree eight years later.

“I took one class, two classes, three classes, whatever we could afford while the kids were in Catholic school,” she said.

Once King began taking journalism classes “doors flew open” for her, she said, and she gained experience at the Register—including a restaurant review column—as well as the Aurora Sentinel and Jefferson Sentinel. After graduation, she landed a reporter position at the Aurora Sentinel covering the education and business beat: a job she enjoyed, but not the perfect job.

“The perfect job,” she thought, would be at the Register. Ten months later, then Register editor Peter Droege, now the executive director of the drug recovery program Step13 in Denver, offered her a reporter position. She eagerly accepted.

“I loved my job, I thought it was the best journalism job in town,” she said. “I got to interview incredible, holy priests, nuns and lay people, and cover amazing ministries and faith-related events.

“Journalism is about the truth,” she continued. “I wanted to write about the truth of Jesus Christ.”

Droege said she exuded a deep faith and modeled a healthy family life as editor.

“One of the things I most admire about her is her ability to balance the many responsibilities of being editor of the Register while maintaining a happy healthy family,” he said.

When Droege left the Register in February 2001, King, who had just served a short stint as assistant editor at the Aurora Sentinel, was selected to be editor.

“That was a miracle,” she said. “I never dreamed that. That’s what is so wonderful about God. I had these tiny dreams, and God’s were so much bigger.”

King said she won’t forget covering the Columbine tragedy, putting a local face on 9/11 events, handling local coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II and the installation of Pope Francis; as well as traveling to Cologne, Germany, for World Youth Day 2005, and International Eucharistic Congress gatherings in Quebec City in 2007 and Dublin in 2012. A highlight was covering a pilgrimage from Denver to Rome this year to the canonization of Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII.

A stand-out Register for her is a 64-page issue—the largest DCR published in her years with the newspaper—from July 25, 2012, on the installation of Archbishop Samuel Aquila. The special edition won a Catholic Press Association award.

“I was so proud of our team and that issue,” she said.

Archbishop Aquila, shepherd of the Denver Archdiocese since 2012, expressed his gratitude for King’s service.

“Roxanne has offered 16 years of generous service to the Archdiocese of Denver as editor of the DCR, and her work has been a valuable asset to the people and faithful of northern Colorado,” he said. “Her loyalty, love for Christ and the Church, and commitment to covering the many stories of the people of this archdiocese will be missed.”

Her tenure at the paper was a tremendous success, Droege said.

“I think she did an incredible job providing coverage of an archdiocese that’s large in terms of geographic region but also complex in terms of the many different parishes, organizations and cultures represented in the diocese,” he said. “She really did a remarkable job. She was fair, she was balanced. She provided coverage that ranged from international news to something very local but no less important to people involved.”

Each issue was a challenge and she will miss the exhilaration, she said.

“Every week we get to see what we produced,” King said. “It’s fun, challenging, creative, meaningful work.

“What I’ll miss most about leaving the DCR—the shared camaraderie and work of putting together the newspaper—discussing story ideas, engaging with sources and gathering the information, writing the stories, taking or picking the photos, editing copy, and planning and putting it all together, both in print and online.”

Despite leaving behind work that’s been her heart, King said she’s received “a deeper appreciation for the truth and beauty of Church teaching.”

She plans to continue writing and editing, start a blog about her West Highlands neighborhood, and spending more time with family including her five grandchildren.

“We pray the Lord will bless her abundantly in her future endeavors,” Archbishop Aquila said.

COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.