Norman Cresswell, founding editor of The Catholic Times has died, aged 72. After a lifetime in journalism, he took the unusual step of penning his own obituary or ‘Resting Piece’ and asked a friend to circulate it after his death.
Cresswell came out of retirement in September 1993 to relaunch The Catholic Times which bears the motto "Follow Peter". The pundits said the title wouldn’t last till Christmas but, nearly eight years on, it remains Britain’s best-selling weekly religious broadsheet.
A former presenter for the BBC, Cresswell created and presented the children’s radio tales of Tibbles the Church Mouse.
He spent several years in industrial publishing before launching Briatin’s first tabloid religious newspaper. The Midlands Pictorial, a Church of England weekly, was soon followed by The Catholic Pictorial chain in Brimingham, Liverpool and London.
The Liverpool office also produced Mersey Mirror and Teenways, which had the unusual distinction of being sold to teenage girls through convent schools.
Since his second retirement in 1996, Cresswell earned a strong following for his weekly ‘View from the Pew’ column in The Catholic Times in which he mused upon the ups, downs and eccentricities of life.
His book of daily meditations, Through the Year with the Catholic Faith, was published by HarperCollins last year.
In his entry in Who’s Who in Catholic Life, Cresswell lists his recreations as "identifying future bishops and looking for country cottages".
In an interview shortly before his death, he described his Catholicism as "a culture inbred in the bone".
"We’ve all drifted away," he said. "We can stray from Catholicism but we’ll come back to it. You can’t get rid of it.
"The Church leaves us with an image of God which is wholly personal. In Jesus we saw a person who was available for all the tears and all the sorrows there were in the world. I see in Jesus a compassion."
He is survived by his widow Mary, also a journalist, and their sons Mark and Nicholas.