Posted by: Sam Lucero on Jun 30, 2009
The Catholic press lost one of its matriarchs last week when Ethel Gintoft, former associate publisher and executive editor of the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, passed away June 24 (read the Catholic Herald obituary here). Ethel, who was 83, served for 20 years in those roles and worked at the Catholic Herald for more than 35 years. She retired in 2001.
My first encounter with Ethel was in June 1987, when I interviewed for the editor's position at the Superior Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Superior. The Milwaukee Catholic Herald is the parent corporation of the Milwaukee Catholic Press Apostolate, which publishes the Catholic Herald newspapers for the Madison and Superior dioceses.
Ethel was my boss for 14 years. She was the consummate professional, with a deep knowledge of the church and journalism. She was also a promoter of social justice, and, along with longtime outstanding editor Tom Smith, oversaw the publication of one of the finest professional Catholic diocesan newspapers ever published. I am proud and humbled to have just a small part in the legacy created and sustained largely by Ethel Gintoft.
Earlier today, June 30, I attended the funeral Mass for Ethel at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee. It was a very memorable service. The Catholic press was well represented at the Mass, with representatives from Catholic News Service, the Catholic Press Association, regional diocesan newspapers and Marquette University's communications department.
The Mass was celebrated by Ethel's good friend, Fr. Mike Hammer, who once -- at Ethel's prodding -- hopped on a Harley Davidson motorcycle to welcome Catholic journalists to Milwaukee for their annual Catholic Press Association convention. About eight priests concelebrated, and also in attendance were Archbishop Rembert Weakland (another close friend of Ethel's who gave the final commendation) and Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba. Both bishops knew and respected Ethel's talents as a journalist and observer and commentator on church affairs.
Ethel entered the Catholic press at age 34, after 16 years as a homemaker. She then blazed a trail for other women in the Catholic press, becoming the first woman to serve as president of the Catholic Press Association. She touched the lives of many Catholic journalists and opened doors for women to roles that were once held only by priests and laymen.
Thanks, Ethel, for all you did to improve Catholic journalism. Your mark will forever be heralded in Catholic newspapers and magazines.
Posted below is a photo of Ethel greeting Archbishop Timothy Dolan during his farewell Mass in Milwaukee last February.