For nearly a decade, John David Long-García has revealed the scope and mission of the Catholic Church throughout the pages of The Catholic Sun.
His award-winning stories elevated the plight of the immigrant and poor, and helped shape Catholics’ view of responsibility for one another.
With that in mind, Long-García announced last month that he has taken a new position with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
He has been hired as editor in chief of The Tidings and Vida Nueva, the archdiocesan newspapers serving the 4.2 million Catholics who call Los Angeles home. [pull_quote_right]A Catholic newspaper should be more preoccupied with the teachings of the Catholic Church than a political party.[/pull_quote_right]
The English-language paper publishes weekly, while the Spanish edition publishes monthly.
It was a decision Long-García prayerfully discerned when he was tapped for the position, but one he ultimately felt God called him to.
“I feel like there is so much talent in the Diocese of Phoenix that God said, ‘you have to share your resources with other people.’ The people in L.A. are part of our family, too,” he said.
Long-García, 36, began working for The Catholic Sun in 2004 as its managing editor. He was promoted to editor in 2010. His last day was Dec. 20, 2013.
Throughout his tenure his work not only encompassed writing, but managing the Spanish section, photography, editing, layout design and social media.
“I learned a lot from Rob [DeFrancesco, associate publisher]. The only thing I didn’t learn from Rob is Spanish. The paper will be just fine because Rob used to do it all. I feel what makes The Catholic Sun, The Catholic Sun is still going to be there,” Long-García said.
“There’s a lot of talent on our staff that are inspired to do great things,” he said. “Rob demands excellence and he wants everybody to give their best, but your best has to improve. I think we had staff and contributors that rose to the occasion.”
Forefront was “fully Catholic” reporting, which included stories on the poor, immigration, unwed mothers, unborn children and the sanctity of marriage.
“A Catholic newspaper should be more preoccupied with the teachings of the Catholic Church than a political party,” Long-García said. “The responsibility of the Catholic paper is to help the Church in its mission to save souls. That also means reporting on sacraments and helping the readers more fully participate in the Mass and helping them, I hope, to really live their Catholic faith.”
Long-García, who has a master’s degree in philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and a master’s degree in theology from the Graduate Theological Union, manages the hardships and joys of life by being grounded in prayer.
“There’s a huge responsibility to lead the diocesan newspaper because of its mission of saving souls,” he said. “It’s too big for one person or a group to undertake. That’s why you have to rely on prayer and God’s grace.”
Colleagues and friends were quick to express their sorrow over his departure, but they all acknowledged his faithfulness.
Joyce Coronel, who has worked with the lay Dominican for the past nine years, said Long-García has great talent and a wonderful sense of humor, but the overriding factor is “he is a man of profound faith.”
“It affects every aspect of his life,” she said.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted called him an “articulate” and “thoughtful” follower of Christ who not only reports stories of interest, but shares the Good News of Jesus.
“He reaches his readers and speaks to our hearts through his genuine interest in people, especially in the least ones of the Gospel,” the bishop said. “He accurately discerns key issues that need to be addressed in the media. More importantly, he brings those issues to life by drawing us into peoples’ hopes and joys, struggles and sorrows.”
Long-García said the most memorable experience at the paper was each assignment because people were happy he would tell their story, be it a parish groundbreaking or the impact of women in West Africa.
“As hard as it was to write about a difficult situation, or the suffering or hardships, there’s always a trust people had,” he said. “I always felt welcomed wherever I went while I was representing The Catholic Sun.”
Not only is he biligual, but he is also an immigrant.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, he moved to the United States with his family when he was 8 and took residence in Chandler. He has traveled the world, but his move to L.A. comes with trepidation.
“John David will be deeply missed in Arizona, but his dedication to the Church’s mission will bring forth good fruit wherever God leads him. We shall keep him in our hearts and prayers,” Bishop Olmsted said.