ROCKVILLE, Md. (CNS) — Joseph Feuerherd, editor-in-chief and publisher of the National Catholic Reporter, died May 26 after an 18-month battle with metastasized soft tissue sarcoma. He was 48.

He died at the Montgomery Hospice’s Casey House in Rockville with his family at his side.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

Feuerherd had been editor-in-chief and publisher of the lay-edited weekly newspaper, based in Kansas City, Mo., since October 2008.

At the time of his appointment, he said he was thrilled the NCR board had chosen him, but he was also “humbled and energized by the opportunity to lead a publication that is vital to American Catholics who love their Church.”

Before taking the top post, he had spent about 24 years filling a variety of roles at the paper, ranging from intern to Washington correspondent.

A native of Garden City, N.Y., Feuerherd first came to NCR in 1984 when he showed up at the paper’s office as a junior at The Catholic University of America in Washington. As a college intern, he recalled in an interview, “I made the coffee, sorted mail, answered phones, clipped newspapers and grabbed whatever reporting assignments I could finagle.”

In his senior year in college, he became the newspaper’s political affairs reporter.

After graduating from Catholic University with a degree in history, he left and returned to NCR several times over the next two decades.

Between positions at NCR, he served as a congressional press secretary and legislative assistant and editor of the weekly publication Economic Opportunity Report.

He returned to NCR in 1988 as Washington bureau chief, a position he kept until 1991.

He then served as public affairs officer at the Montgomery County (Md.) Housing Opportunities Commission from 1991 to 1997 and editorial director and associate publisher at United Communications Group in Rockville from 1998 to 2002. He returned to NCR as Washington correspondent from 2002 to 2007.

Feuerherd is survived by his wife of 27 years, Rebecca, a teacher; three adult children, Zachary, Bridget and Benjamin, all of Kensington, Md.; and siblings Victor Feuerherd of Madison, Wis., Elizabeth Munafo of Jericho, N.Y., Peter and David Feuerherd of Queens, N.Y., and Matthew Feuerherd of Jefferson, Md.