It’s by Heidi Schlumpf, in a January, 2016 Natl Catholic Reporter article about Catholic journalists in Chicago, posted just after Grant Gallicho of Commonweal had joined the Catholic New world as executive editor.
Though readers of national Catholic media may know Gallicho’s name, they may not have heard of Dolores Madlener. But she is well-known and loved throughout the Chicago archdiocese. Last month, she retired after 37 years with the archdiocesan paper.
I have been lucky enough to have been mentored by her, both professionally and personally, since I met her in the mid-1990s. Although she started as the editor’s secretary, Madlener quickly took on other jobs around the paper, including the compiling of the weekly calendar page and the writing of a benevolent gossip column.
But she was more than a colleague to me; she is a role model. We’re very different: She’s a South Sider, I live north, and she is more conservative than I. But she taught me how to be open to whatever life throws you. She counseled me after my first marriage ended, and has cheered me on as I pursued graduate school, other jobs, marriage and children.
Madlener was the first person I knew who had her own email address and was exploring this new thing called the “World Wide Web.” Despite her 80-some years, she is the epitome of “young at heart.”A member of the Focolare movement, she is deeply spiritual and Catholic, but with a touch of, shall we say, clerical “suspicion,” if not anticlericalism.
She has a reporter’s nose for news, and I suspect if she had been born in a different generation, you would definitely know her name as a top Catholic journalist.
I remember her introducing me to NCR, explaining that this is where the real story of what’s going on in the church is. I can’t let her retire without mentioning her in its pages.
Thank you, Dolores, for all you’ve done for the church, for Catholic journalism and for me.
[Heidi Schlumpf teaches communication at Aurora University, outside Chicago.]
This story appeared in the Jan 15-28, 2016 print issue under the headline: Journalists find a home in Chicago archdiocese | National Catholic Reporter