The Republican’s recently retired Executive Editor Wayne Phaneuf is being honored by the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts for his contributions to journalism over a 50-year career.
Phaneuf, who retired at the beginning of the year, will be presented with the Bishop’s Award Tuesday, Feb. 25, during the diocese’s annual “Blessing of Journalists” at noon at Christ Church Cathedral, 25 Chestnut St.
The service was initiated two years ago by the Right Rev. Douglas Fisher, diocesan bishop, to show support for “the work of a free press.”
Phaneuf is the second person to receive the award that honors a journalist for “excellence in bringing local and national concerns to the people of Western Massachusetts.”
Carrie Saldo, host of WGBY 57′s news magazine program “Connecting Point,” was the first recipient last year.
The Very Rev. Tom Callard, cathedral dean, will welcome attendees along with Fisher, who will speak, as will Jesse Lederman, Springfield City Councilor At-Large.
Phaneuf became executive editor of The Republican in 1998.
His appointment followed a career that began on May 13, 1969 at the Springfield Daily News, where he started as a temporary artist on his 20th birthday, and included being a reporter, columnist, suburban editor, assistant managing editor and managing editor for a decade before being named executive editor.
He remains with The Republican as executive editor emeritus and, along with writing partner, Joseph Carvalho, is concentrating on developing the book publishing arm of the newspaper.
Under his guidance, The Republican has published 19 books to date and will be working on seven more in 2020.
He was succeeded by Cynthia G. Simison, the newspaper’s first woman executive editor.
The Feb. 25 service is open to the public and will include the reading of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as readings from Scripture.
Prayers will be offered for journalists locally and around the world.
The service is held in February in conjunction with the Episcopal Church’s annual commemoration of Frederick Douglass, the 19th century orator, civil rights leader and editor of the pro-abolition journal The North Star.
The award recipient is given a framed page from the paper founded by Douglass.
Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland, but was able to escape North, and died Feb. 20, 1895.
Douglass appeared before a a large audience at City Hall in Springfield on the night of April 12, 1865, speaking on the topic of “equality before the law.”
On another occasion, he also debated the Rev. Leonard Collins, pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church here, on whether blacks had the right to organize their own churches.
His belief in equal rights included equality for women as well. In 1848, he was the only African American to attend the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York.
Douglass second wife, Helen Pitts, an early feminist, was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley.
The books in The Republican’s Heritage Series that Phaneuf has served as an editor and contributor include “The Struggle for Freedom: The History of African Americans in Western Massachusetts.”