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Back in the summer of 1979, a year before my college graduation, I got my first professional job in journalism. I was hired as a summer intern, to serve as interim editor of La Voz Católica.

That meant filling four pages of news every week, reporting, writing, and editing in Spanish. My first thought: I can do this! (I had been a reporter and editor for my high school and college papers.)

My first day on the job, I called my mother to tell her I had reached the pinnacle of my aspirations: I had a desk, a phone, a typewriter (yes, an old – even then – Royal, Google “His Girl Friday” for reference); and to top it all off, I was getting paid to read and write news.

More than 40 years later, that feeling of joy and fulfillment has never left me. And I also never left the archdiocesan newspapers.

Archbishop John C. Favalora and Florida Catholic editor Ana Rodriguez-Soto in Rome after the pallium ceremony for new archbishops, June 1995.

Photographer:

Archbishop John C. Favalora and Florida Catholic editor Ana Rodriguez-Soto in Rome after the pallium ceremony for new archbishops, June 1995.

Asked to return after graduation in 1980 and work for the English-language publication, then called The Voice, I put in eight years before stepping away to become a fulltime mom. But I continued to freelance for the newspaper — eventually renamed the Florida Catholic – returning as a part-timer in 1993 and taking over as fulltime editor in January 2002.

That’s over 40 years of covering the “good news” of the Catholic Church in South Florida: three archbishops, a half dozen auxiliary bishops, more than 100 parishes, over 60 schools, dozens of priests and ordinations, Mother Teresa, Mother Angelica, all three papal trips to Cuba, a visit to Pope Benedict’s Germany, a World Youth Day in Poland, a trek to our sister Diocese of Port-de-Paix in Haiti, two pallium trips to Rome, and yes, even a week in Surfside.

I have had the privilege of listening to learned theologians, scripture scholars and liturgists; of interviewing, photographing and interacting with hundreds of Catholics who bring the faith to life not just in their parishes but throughout our community. I am convinced I have met countless saints living in our midst.

As the kids say, it's been awesome. The job never got old. But I did. I will turn 65 in March and have decided to step away from the deadlines – which are no longer weekly but now come swiftly, 24/7 – and enjoy the down time that comes with retirement.

Ana Rodriguez-Soto in the back of the SUV where she photographed the archbishop's ride through the new PortMiami Tunnel, August 2014.

Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC

Ana Rodriguez-Soto in the back of the SUV where she photographed the archbishop's ride through the new PortMiami Tunnel, August 2014.

I will miss my work, of course, because I have wanted to be a journalist since fifth grade. I will miss the camaraderie with colleagues and freelancers, their creativity and talent, the sheer fun – and constant stress – of our work. I will miss the unexpected nuggets of praise from our readers that remind us who we work for.

But like the stories I have covered over the past 40-plus years, my retirement is mostly good news. Younger journalists, with different perspectives and new ideas, will be taking over, helping La Voz and the Miami edition of the Florida Catholic move forward and keep up with the fast-changing times.

Before I go, though, I want to correct some mistaken ideas about journalism. First, that Catholic journalism means covering Masses, and therefore is not “real” journalism, or simply boring.

As Gaudium et Spes put it: "The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well."

That’s precisely what Catholic journalists cover: people, their “joys and hopes, grief and anguish.” That’s never boring. And every person’s story, in the hands of a good journalist, can illuminate a truth (even if inconvenient) about life, about human nature, about justice and injustice, about struggles and hope, about faith itself – in both the Catholic and every other sense of the word.

I have done my best to focus on those stories throughout my tenure here, something I learned from my predecessors. I haven’t always succeeded, but I never stopped trying.

My second point is that journalism is an education – a constant education for the journalist, as well as for the readers. For what do journalists do when they cover a story? They talk to people. They ask questions. They take notes. In a word, they learn, as much as they can as quickly as they can. Then they turn around and do their best to share that knowledge with their readers.

Journalists, then, are both learners and teachers. The old adage is we write the “first draft” of history. And history is an important subject to learn. Without history, we have no context for the things we see happening in our world.

That’s why journalism is important. That’s why newspapers – whether you read them in print or online – are important. That’s why reading more than the headline is important.

The history of the world – and certainly the history of this archdiocese – is written in volume after volume of printed and online news stories. That’s why it’s so important to preserve newspapers and to support the work of journalists, especially local journalists, both in the secular world and in the Catholic Church.

As the song asks in the musical Hamilton: “Who lives, who dies, who tells your [Archdiocese of Miami] story?”

Journalism has been, for me, a way of providing an education to others while continually learning myself. It’s been edifying. It’s been satisfying. It’s been a privilege and an honor to do this work – and to get paid for it!

I plan to keep rooting from the sidelines for my colleagues in Miami and elsewhere in the Catholic press. To them and our readers: God bless, and may “good news” be your story always.

This blog was first published as an article in the February 2024 edition of the Florida Catholic.

Comments from readers

Lourdes Reimundo - 03/01/2024 01:10 PM
Congratulations and blessings on your past and your future! I always looked for your name and enjoyed everything you did.
Carlota E. morales - 03/01/2024 10:49 AM
Ana, I want to personally thank you for your kindness and professionalism throughout so many years!. You have encouraged so many of us As you begin this new phase of your life, may it be all that you wish with the Lord guiding you always Every wish for a bright tomorrow! Carlota E. Morales, Ed.D,
Jenny Gamito - 02/29/2024 09:31 AM
I am sad to see you go. You certainly have been an inspiration and a true testament of faith for all of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with you. You will be missed. I wish you all the best in this new phase of your life. May you enjoy your family and retirement! Many Blessings always! Jenny Gamito
Fr. Matthew - 02/27/2024 05:26 PM
Ana, Thank you for all that you do, have done, and will continue to do for the Archdiocese. Your stories bring back the memories of the lived experiences. Thank you for bringing those memories back with your words. Enjoy retirement! Blessings, Fr. Matthew
Paulette Vitale - 02/27/2024 11:48 AM
I will forever remember our first meeting at the ADOM when you were "underground" at the newly-built Pastoral Center. I will forever remember the major cutback in employees when The Voice and The Office of Young Adult Ministry was closed on the same day. Our personal journeys of bearing children, educating them together at Chaminade-Madonna and my utmost respect for you as a friend and journalist continues to be a special and unique relationship. May God Bless you as your journey of learning and teaching is evidenced in countless more ways.
Msgr. Michael Carruthers - 02/27/2024 10:28 AM
Ana: You are an awesome woman of God. Thank you for your faithfulness, dedication, and hard work. Enjoy the next stage of the incredible adventure of following the Lord. Be assured of my Praiers Fr. Michael.
Rev Federico Capdepon - 02/26/2024 09:18 PM
Dear Ana . You were part of that group of women that in the early 80’s began to show great leadership in our archdiocese at the pastoral center and elsewhere . Reporting , writing , checking facts , giving “Good News” has been part of your life for 40 years . I want to congratulate you for a job well done . You wrote part of the history of this wonderful archdiocese and for that I would like to thank you. May the Lord give you health to enjoy your retirement with your whole family . “Ad multos annos” . Fr Federico Capdepon
Dwayne Clein - 02/26/2024 06:57 PM
Ana you will truly be missed. Thank you for your dedication through all of these years.
Deacon. Vince Eberling - 02/26/2024 05:49 PM
Well done good and faithful servant. Thank you for all your years of service to the Church. Thanks for the good well thought out articles over the years. You will be missed
Liz - 02/26/2024 05:39 PM
Ana, thank you for your commitment and dedication throughout the years! Enjoy your well deserved retirement. You will be very missed. Prayers and all the best to you and your family.
Victor Martell - 02/26/2024 05:15 PM
Admirar tu trabajo es algo que todos hacemos agradeciéndole por vida. Pero no puedo esconder mi dolor porque han sido años de trabajar juntos para nuestro DIOS.
Teresa E Fernandez Soneira - 02/26/2024 05:03 PM
¡Muchas felicidades en tu retiro! que sea con felicidad, salud y paz. Y muchas gracias también por tu trabajo, tu dedicación y tu profesionalismo. ¡Te extrañaremos! Un abrazo.
Deacon Victor M. LOPEZ - 02/26/2024 02:18 PM
Bendiciones y muchas gracias, Ana! Diacono Victor M. Lopez
Vilma Angulo - 02/26/2024 02:07 PM
Ana, I congratulate you on this new phase in your life. You leave us a legacy of incredible journalism and hard work. The impact of your well thought out words, information, direction and challenges have led us to better understand the importance of being informed of what happens in our archdiocese and around the world through a Catholic lens. I am personally grateful to you. Throughout my 28 years of active ministry in the Archdiocese your personal support and affirmation of all my endeavors were a blessing. Thank you Ana! May God bless you and those you love on this new journey!

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