I got some sad news the other day-- Fr. Paul Stenhouse, the editor of Annals Australasia magazine, has passed away. He had edited the magazine (whose long existence, sadly, ends this very year) since 1966.
Annals published a good few of my articles over the last few years-- perhaps ten or so.
I'd never heard of Annals until I got an email from Fr. Stenhouse, asking me if he could reprint one of my blog posts. I gladly gave permission, of course. He invited me to send him more articles after that.
Many of the articles I had published in the magazine were poetry criticism-- something I appreciated, since most editors won't touch anything to do with poetry.
Fr. Stenhouse was obviously a cultured man-- Annals was full of stand-alone quotations from all sorts of books and authors, many of them old and obscure. He seemed especially keen on G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Christopher Hollis.
When my book was being published, I asked Fr. Stenhouse to contribute a "blurb". Not only did he read the book, but he sub-edited the entire thing, without being asked. He asked me to give him a call about it-- something I did with great reluctance, since my dislike for the telephone cannot be overstated. But now I'm grateful I got to have a conversation with him, and to hear his voice. He had many useful suggestions to make, and his editorial eye also caught a few howlers. It's thanks to Fr. Stenhouse that I didn't have King Henry XVIII dissolving the English monasteries!
There is also rather a poignant connection with my own father (whose eightieth birthday would have been tomorrow). My father would read the copies of Annals Australasia that I was sent, and he had a high opinion of them, especially the articles on the history of Islam. I would pass this praise onto Fr. Stenhouse, who in turn took to regularly asking after my father. I don't think I ever mentioned his passing to him, though.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.