Retiring editor’s work for church will go on
Longtime Catholic Accent editor Jerry Zufelt plans to continue his work as a volunteer
As told to John Zylka
Director of Visual Communications
Catholic Accent editor and senior writer Jerry Zufelt will retire at the end of October 2020. Zufelt reflects on his career and discusses his future plans.
Jerry, you’ve spent most of your career telling the Church’s story. What is your favorite part of the job?
Quite simply, telling the Church’s story. Telling the stories of the people, especially the people in the Diocese of Greensburg. They have a strong faith, but a humble faith — the laypeople, the priests, the women’s religious groups. That’s been the most enjoyable part. And my co-workers — I’ve worked with a lot of great people in the 20 years I have been here at the diocese.
Zufelt and his wife, Edie, pose with former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier at an Aquinas Academy fundraiser.
Are there any stories that really stand out to you?
Many, but 9/11 would be one because of how close the Flight 93 crash site is to here. I will never forget that day. We’ve received many awards over the years, including the last couple of years. One that I am particularly proud of is a first-place national award we received for our coverage one year after 9/11.
We would probably need the better part of two hours to go through the list of stories and the list of people, the situations, and I would probably still miss some. It has been a joy. I have always looked forward to going out and talking with the people in the schools and the parishes. One thing that has really struck me over the 20 years is people have such a solid faith and are so humble. “Why are you talking to me? I’m not doing anything special.” People of the Diocese of Greensburg are not looking for recognition for the work they do. It is enough that they are living their faith and know they are doing it. It’s heartening to see people who go out, do the work of the Church, and do it because that’s what they want to do and that’s what they are called to do. And they are not looking for any recognition. I have loved every person I have talked to who has had that attitude. And there are a lot of them.
What has changed at The Accent since you started 20 years ago?
Technology. Absolutely technology. We had a TV show, but nothing like what we do now. We were still focused on The Accent newspaper product. But in the past few years, as anyone who has been watching this show knows, we use communications technology in so many ways that 20 years ago we probably never even thought about.
Zufelt interviews Patty Swartzlander of St. Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Kittanning, for “The Accent On-Air.”
Jerry and Edie Zufelt with their children and spouses and grandchildren.
What are you most looking forward to in retirement?
The first thing is being a full-time grandpa. We have a couple of grandsons up in Mercer; we don’t get to see them much. I am looking forward to spending more time with my wife. We’re looking forward to being able to pick up and go when we want. But I am also looking forward to doing a different type of work for the Church; looking forward to working for Catholic Charities as a volunteer; volunteering for the St. Vincent de Paul Society; volunteering for parish activities. There are so many ways the Church reaches out.
You are retiring professionally, but not retiring from the Church.
Absolutely not retiring from the Church, and we’re not leaving Greensburg. People have asked if we are moving to Florida. No. When people ask where home is: Greensburg is home. We have no desire to leave anytime soon.
Well, that will be nice. What advice do you have for the next generation of Catholic journalists?
Know your faith. Be grounded in your faith. The most important thing now to work as a Catholic journalist is that you have to be able to do all aspects of communications. I never dreamed I would be doing a TV interview, and I have done TV interviews now for “The Accent On-Air.” You have to know all aspects of communication. You have to be able to tell a story immediately through a variety of different channels.
What are your prayers for the Catholic Church?
I pray for the Catholic Church every day, that the Holy Spirit give the Church strength and courage to move forward and the perseverance to continue moving forward. It’s not any one group, it’s all of us working together to spread the word of God.
We are all going to miss you, Jerry.
Thank you. I’m going to miss everybody, but I’ll be around. You guys will know where to find me.