Best Boss Ever!
In early July, 2007, an unexpected phone call brought a treasured gift to my life.
Father Fred Power, S.J. the editor of the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart magazine asked if I would be interested in working with him. He explained that his present Associate Editor, Alfred De Manche was ill and would not be able to continue.
I had moved from Cornwall to Toronto two years earlier, and had been writing articles for Father Power for about twenty years. Father had visited my art exhibition held a few months earlier in Scarborough, and had indicated that he might be looking for some help to prepare the layout of the magazine.
During my interview the following week, I was asked to attempt the layout of a few pages; in fact, Father gave me an article of mine to illustrate. The 32 page layout was still being done in the clip and paste style, with an outside firm preparing the pages of text. There were six file drawers full of photos and illustrations, as well as the old-fashioned clip art books to use for the various articles.
I spent a couple of hours doing this, and when Father Power observed the results, he smiled and said: “You obviously have a natural talent for this. I will speak to the Provincial, and if you are interested, you have the job.” There was no discussion of payment for my service, but the opportunity of working with an experienced editor like Father Power interested me so much that I would have been happy to volunteer.
The next week, I returned to begin taking on the role of Associate Editor, and as I often remarked to people who visited the office, I was sitting in Alfred’s chair, but no one could ever replace a man with his experience.
I was hired at a very good wage for twelve hours per week, and the days could be flexible, as long as I was aware of our deadlines for copy, and final proofing. I worked six hours per day, two days a week, starting early and leaving early, to avoid the rush hour. This was Father Power’s suggestion; my commute was nearly 90 minutes, as I lived in the west end of the city with the office in the east end.
For seven years, it was my privilege to discover the many talents of this remarkable priest. He had a very necessary discipline that he taught me to follow: DO IT NOW. If we discussed an idea for a change in the layout, or an idea for an article, he would send me back to my office immediately to get it on paper.
One of my tasks each month was to choose the various stories and articles, and also, to pick one of the Pope’s talks to use. My spirituality was enhanced by reading so many of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s various addresses in the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Such a gifted leader for our church!
There was such joy in editing the articles of the many talented writers like Barbara Jeanne fisher, Dennis McCloskey, Doug McManaman, Mary Hansen, Donna McMaster and John O’Brien, S.J. to name just a few.
Our office manager Maureen Kinlin became a close friend, and especially helped when it was time to celebrate Father Power’s 90th birthday, the same year he retired. He was replaced by Father Philip Shano, S.J. whose writing skills can still be enjoyed by readers of this blog.
On November 2, 2017, God came calling for Frederick Joseph Power, S.J. who was in his 94th year. I had been up to visit him at the Jesuit infirmary in Pickering two weeks earlier and enjoyed sharing Mass and a delicious lunch. At the door, just before our good-byes, I asked him for his blessing.
My retrospective art exhibition was opening on November 4th, and he had said he wished he could have been well enough to attend.
By the grace of God, Father Power was with me at that exhibition, both in spirit and in my heart, having been an important mentor for so many years. Lessons learned from sharing the task of producing this special magazine by his side, will continue to assist me for the rest of my days.
Rest in peace, Father. You were the best boss ever!