‘Church Clips’ returns for anniversary issue

By Dolores Madlener | Contributor
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dolores Madlener started her newspaper career as the administrative assistant to editor AEP Wall (Chicago Catholic file photo)

For many years, a favorite feature in our pages was “Church Clips” by Dolores Madlener, which offered a regular dose of “benevolent gossip.”

The column ended with Madlener’s retirement in 2015. In honor of this anniversary issue, she dusted off her pen and delivered this special edition. Enjoy.

By Dolores Madlener

”Seems like old times, having you to talk with” — yes, it’s that sweet tune Diane Keaton revived in 1977’s “Annie Hall” — and it welcomes you to this deja vu edition of “Church Clips,” celebrating Chicago Catholic’s 125th anniversary. Please consider this a return ticket to a place with pleasant memories. If you never read Clips, welcome aboard anyway, but be aware we’re going backwards:

In the “I’ll never forget” department, everyone remembers the anxious requests from readers for places to send used greeting cards. One time Clips printed an absolution in Latin so we could collectively chuck our cards into a recycling bin with a clear conscience. . . . “Pastor’s Pooch” featured priests bragging about Fido, the only member of the parish who obeyed their every command. . . . “Honk if you’re Pro-Life” spread the word of why Respect Life heroes in the arch skip casinos and hit the clinics with prayer instead. . . . There was name-dropping the likes of Bernardin, George and Cupich, along with JPII of course, Benedict and Francis.  And lots of lesser-known neighbors, like Gwen Currin of St. Dorothy’s, who was still visiting AIDS patients in her 90s.  . . . “Junior Clips” often turned the spotlight on a generosity of spirit only found in our young’uns.  . . . 

“Parish Potpourri” kept spreading the news of as many parishes as possible in each issue. And from time to time “Idea Exchange” shared one parish’s unique idea with all the others. Kind of a communion of goods. . . . Remember the oddities, like the Pope Pius IX cologne, a 2-oz. bottle for $24.99? Or the graceful 19-foot statue of Mary carved in a 60-year-old dead honey locust tree in a backyard in Evergreen Park? . . . 

There were sports stories of local jocks who made the big league, and reviews of books on faith and sports, including one by a hockey-playing bishop. Every fall we waited for Providence Sister Jean “Super Bowl Queen” Kenny to pick her prospects of Bears’ wins or losses.  . . . But what I loved most about writing “Church Clips” was hearing from my readers (including Cardinal George).  . . . It was those notes you’d include with an SAS envelope mailed in to receive a prayer card of a new Blessed or Saint. I always tried to include a return note of “Thanks for being there.”. . . 

I’ll never forget in 2009, one reader helped readers find a copy of the iconic and elusive First Communion hymn, “Little White Guest.” After sending in her SASE, a subscriber in Irvine, California, gushed to Clips: “Hooray, my copy arrived today! All the music ministers in Southern California were looking for this hymn for me. I’ve already made copies for an organist friend, a music teacher, the IHM Sisters, and my daughter’s second-graders who will be making their First Communion. What joy you have sent across the miles!” . . . Together with readers I had fun exchanging stories of homemade May altars from grade school days. Or those nostalgic comments you sent on the art of jumping rope “Double Dutch.” “Bud” on the North Side wrote in to confess, “Even the guys at St. Gertrude’s liked to jump Double Dutch in 1954.” 

When I retired on All Souls Day 2015, Clips readers shared their sense of kinship and sense of humor. Writer Pete Kelly called me “the original Church Lady,” a la Dana Carvey on “Saturday Night Live.” “Well, isn’t that special, Pete?” . . . It meant so much to get a note from Sister Rosemary at Misericordia. I might still take you up on that lunch offer, Sister! . . . One reader wrote that a mention in Clips introduced her to the Monastery of the Holy Cross not far from her home in Bridgeport. She had always wanted to become a Benedictine Oblate, and she made her oblation the following year. She closed her note with, “Let’s pray for each other. See you upstairs!” … Now remember, dear readers, that’s the plan.


  • 125th anniversary

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