Msgr. David Quentin Liptak, 89, of Enfield, a columnist and editor for The Catholic Transcript newspaper for more than 60 years, passed away peacefully on Monday, January 1, 2018.
He was born on January 17, 1928, in Bridgeport, son of the late Stephen D. and Amelia M. (Witt) Liptak. He graduated from St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield and received degrees in philosophy and theology from St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, N.Y. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1953, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford by Bishop Henry J. O’Brien.
Shortly after his ordination, then-Father David Liptak began a more than 61-year career as columnist, journalist and editor of the Transcript, concentrating on theology. He retired as the executive editor in January 2016 to assume senior priest status. He had served under five archbishops, including Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, who was installed in December 2013.
At the time of Msgr. Liptak’s retirement from the newspaper, Archbishop Blair said of him, “Anyone who has a conversation with Msgr. Liptak will very quickly recognize that he is a man of great intellect, wide interests and a deep love of the Church. In my experience of various diocesan publications over the years, The Catholic Transcript stands out, particularly for its editorial page, thanks to Msgr. Liptak.”
“In the rapidly changing world of communications and print media, the talents of a writer and thinker like Msgr. Liptak are as important as ever,” Archbishop Blair said.
Archbishop Henry J. O’Brien appointed then-Father Liptak to the post of associate editor of The Catholic Transcript on June 17, 1954, when he began writing his “What’s Your Question?” column, which first appeared July 1, 1954, and ended in November 2015. It is arguably the longest-running newspaper column of all time by the same writer and for the same newspaper in America, eclipsing even Irving (“Kup”) Kupcinet’s 59-year “Town Crier” column that actually spanned two Chicago newspapers.
From 1981-2003, Msgr. Liptak continued as consulting editor at the Transcript, contributing theology-based columns while increasing his involvement with academia at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell. In 2003, Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin appointed Msgr. Liptak executive editor of the Transcript.
During his time as executive editor, Msgr. Liptak’s editorials and the Transcript received top awards from the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, New England Newspaper and Press Association and Catholic Press Association.
Catholic Transcript was changed to a magazine format in January 2017.
Msgr. Liptak was appointed assistant pastor of St. Augustine Church in Hartford in 1954. In 1959, he became the chaplain for the House of Good Shepherd in Hartford.
In addition to earning his doctorate in ministry from Drew University in 1978, Msgr. Liptak received an honorary doctorate in 2003 from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, where he served for over 20 years. His work at Holy Apostles was long and varied. He began as an instructor of modern philosophy in 1980, and in 1983 he co-edited, with Father Francis J. Lescoe, Ph.D., a volume of Perspectives in Bioethics, published by the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center at Holy Apostles. In 1986 he became a professor, director of priestly formation and chair of Holy Apostles’ Theology Department. He continued his work there until 2014.
In 1988 he co-edited the seminary’s three volumes of the John Paul II Lecture Series in Bioethics. He was one of three co-founders of the St. Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center, which honored him in 2016 with its Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of devoted service there. The center’s Bioethics Resource Library was dedicated to Msgr. Liptak in January 2010.
Through the years, Msgr. Liptak authored or co-authored more than a dozen books about the saints, moral theology, bioethical issues and sacramental theology. He also published numerous essays, homilies, book reviews and encyclopedia articles; and taught at or conducted seminars, lectures and retreats nationwide.
In 1993, he was appointed pastor at St. Catherine Church in Broad Brook. He was appointed censor librorum for the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1995 and held that position until his death.
Msgr. Liptak is survived by his sister, Sister of Mercy Dolores Liptak of West Hartford; his brother-in-law, Joseph P. Nucera; his nieces and nephews, Faith Nucera Sprow of Bel Air, Md.; Joseph D. Nucera of Ellington; Katherine Berkun of Killingworth; Elizabeth “Lily” Rausa; David P. Nucera of Alexandria, Va; and five grandnieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Beatrice L. Nucera and his niece, Beatrice Ann Nucera.
Friends may call at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, 140 Farmington Ave., Hartford on Friday, Jan. 5, from 9 to 11 a.m. Archbishop Blair will celebrate the funeral liturgy at 11 a.m.
Burial will be in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Stratford. Memorial contributions may be made to Little Sisters of the Poor, 1365 Enfield St., Enfield, CT 06082.