While journalism was at the heart and soul of Al Antczak’s lengthy career, he also put a special spin on “Ed Rodeo,” The Tidings’ editor column started by the paper’s only female editor, Alice Stevens, in 1911.
His words took on a more meditative, reverential tone in El Rodeo. His musings ranged from illegal aliens to priests to Catholic newspapers. Some read like a narrative prayer.
About Catholic papers, he wrote: “They are everyday communications workhorses of the U.S. Catholic Church. They are residual, timely, local and economical. Catholic newspapers are the best cost effective medium of conveying news, publicity and adult religious education week in and week out that the Church possesses outside the Sunday pulpit.”
In the early ‘80s, there were few, if any, support groups for migrants from Mexico and refugees from Central America. And their stories of plight weren’t being covered by most of the media. In December 1983, Al lamented the fact that there was no attention being paid to the hazardous crossing of the border, trek across the desert and then being unwelcomed in the U.S.:
“How do you live in a place where you are resented, reviled and rejected? Where you are resented for speaking a foreign language, for having different customs, for being regarded as a criminal who broke the law of the country by crossing its border, a legal line, but a gateway to safety and survival?”
And in a moving column about the golden jubilee of his close friend Cardinal Timothy Manning, Al observed that a priest and bishop must be a herald of the Gospel, besides being a teacher, healer and servant configured to Christ:
“For 50 years the people of the Church in California along this portion of El Camino Real have had the treasure and the blessing of such a priest ‘to act for them in relation to God.’ There is an old prayer that is the custom of the people who rooted in this land the faith he has cultivated so well: It is a prayer always said in the language of the heart: Que Dios te guarde, Cardinal Manning.”