Jon DeBellis
Jon DeBellis
How does the end of the Catholic Sentinel and El Centinela make me feel? Sad, yes. But also, it reminds me of just how much history and joy I experienced while I was a reporter and news editor at the Sentinel for close to 20 years.

I was there for the tail end of Cardinal Francis George's tenure as Archbishop of Portland before he went on to become the lauded Cardinal Francis George in Chicago.

I was there for the installation of Archbishop John Vlazny and Archbishop Alexander Sample.

I was there for the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of Portland at the height of the clergy abuse scandal and subsequent lawsuits.

I worked closely with the only female layperson to have held a chancellor's position in a diocese.

I helped transition the newspaper into web and video coverage.

I recorded an audio version of the Catholic Sentinel for several years for readers who couldn't use their eyes to absorb the information from the paper anymore.

I got to report on Catholic Relief Services' efforts in Nicaragua following Hurricane Mitch.

I danced with persons with disabilities at the Hand in Hand Festival at St. Andrew Parish.

I laid out a newspaper with the editor of El Centinela, a Colombian immigrant who spoke no English and learned that language is a boundary easily overcome with patience and love.

I went for a walk with a Holy Names nun who changed my perspective on joy.

I sat in a parish hall with a priest while he smoked a cigarette and asked him, "shouldn't you be smoking outside?" To which his response was, "this isn't the church; we're good." We both laughed heartily.

I saw Catholics feed people, pray with people, clothe people.

I witnessed the power of faith on inmates at Oregon State Penitentiary.

I watched farmworkers pick hops.

I was there when archbishops breathed into Chrism oil.

I saw priests lay in prostrate during their ordinations.

I took pictures of toddlers goofing around during Mass.

I sat next to Cardinal Foley at the Catholic Press Association convention in Pittsburgh, shortly before he died.

I walked with a young University of Portland student who would gather old flowers from floral shops and pass them out to homeless people.

I ate a Basque lunch with an immigrant priest in Jordan Valley, Oregon.

And so much more.

For me the loss of the Catholic Sentinel and El Centinela fills me with sadness. It truly does.

But the closing of these great publications also makes me feel proud that I was part of a historical journaling project of Catholic life in Oregon. I was a witness to peoples' dedication to the one who gave his life for us , and how their stories and their faith made living this complicated life more joyful for so many.

DeBellis is a former news editor.