When 'usual' doesn't apply

“In the field” is a term journalism types like to throw around. For different types of writers, it means different things. But, for all, it means stepping away from their desks. It means a change of clothes. A change of location. And a change of perspective.

In the days and weeks after Hurricane Florence, that’s how it went for the diocesan communications department.

We traded work shoes for rain boots and visited impacted parishes, schools and communities. Volunteers working in distribution centers chatted with us as they arranged shoes by size. Busy pastors and school principals gave us tours. Residents whose homes were flooded invited us inside and shared their stories. 

Usually we shake hands when we meet sources. Not “in the field” after a hurricane. Most sources we met would laugh, show their palms, often dirty from work, and say something like, “you don’t want to shake my hand.”

Usually we exchange office phone numbers and work emails with people. Not “in the field” after the hurricane. People shared their mobile numbers and replied quickly to texts and phone calls.

Usually, in this magazine, we print a single cover story about a Catholic person, a Catholic group or a Catholic project. Not “from the field” after the hurricane. There was just too much happening to focus on one person, one parish or even one faith.

Everywhere we looked there was something worth reporting on. There was humanity. There was the woman at New Bern’s St. Paul Church who brought lunch every day to a makeshift command center as volunteers worked to make sure each parishioner was safe. There were Knights of Columbus running the swiftest drive-through you’ve ever seen for people picking up mops and brooms in Burgaw. There were volunteers in Oriental handing out 480 supply kits in one week, using a room at St. Peter the Fisherman Mission.

They didn’t show up because we were there with cameras. They were just going about their day, and we happened to be there.

The cover story you’ll find on page 12 tells some of the stories. From our point of view here at NC Catholics, each one represents the gift of someone willing to share their experience.