Mary Gotwals has a personal connection to the St. Louis Review dating to the archdiocesan newspaper’s renaming 54 years ago.
“I like the Review, especially because I named it,” Gotwals said.
The Sept. 21, 1956, issue of the paper’s predecessor, the St. Louis Register, reported the new name, chosen from 520 potential names sent in by readers during the preceding month. Choice of a new name was necessary because the Register name was the property of the Catholic Press Society, Inc., of Denver, Colorado, publisher of a national Register system of newspapers. Cardinal Joseph Ritter had decided the archdiocese would publish its own newspaper instead.
Four readers suggested “Review” as part of the newspaper’s name, although none suggested the precise wording. Gotwals, a member of Our Lady of the Pillar Parish, and Antoinette Stoppelman of Mary Queen of Peace Parish both suggested St. Louis Archdiocesan Review. Irene Morgan of the former Holy Family Parish in St. Louis suggested The Review and Agnes Steinke of Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Louis suggested The Catholic Review. (The newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore — from where Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski hails — is called the Catholic Review, with the paper’s name dating back to 1913 as the Baltimore Catholic Review.)
Gotwals, who is 90 now and was 26 at the time, remembers many of the details, including the name she chose, when the contest occurred — during “a very hot summer, my home was not air-conditioned” — and when the article about the name selection was published. “It was on the front page,” she said.
Gotwals’ suggestion was one of 15 possible names she submitted. The winners received nothing for their submissions other than the satisfaction of being part of history. Msgr. Jasper J. Chiodini, the editor of the paper, stated that he wanted St. Louis in the name to identify it as a newspaper for the entire archdiocese. “The word ‘Review,’ while a traditional newspaper name, which describes this newspaper’s function of reviewing current items of interest to Catholics, is not identified with any newspaper published in this area,” he wrote.
A member of Our Lady of the Pillar Parish all these years, Gotwals now lives at St. Agnes Home in Kirkwood. “I still contribute to my parish,” she said.
She was one of the founding members of the parish when it began in 1938, remembering that its origins were in the chapel at Chaminade Preparatory School and that the school was built first. “I was so happy when the Pillar began,” she said. Earlier she attended Annunziata and St. Monica — then a tiny German church with fans to keep people cool. The first pastor of Our Lady of the Pillar was the chaplain at Villa Duchesne, where she attended school.
Gotwals was a school teacher for 38 years, the last 27 years in the Mehlville School District.
Growing up, she recalled, her father loved to read the Register, telling her that “there was better news in there than in the regular paper.”
The newspaper’s editor asked many people to advise him on the name choices with a view to their practicality. Other names most frequently mentioned were St. Louis Crusader, Catholic News, Catholic Informer, Standard, Herald, Shepherd, Advocate, Observer, Challenger and Workman. The article in the Register about the name choice explained that most of the names were in use by other publications.
The first edition of the St. Louis Review newspaper was Feb. 1, 1957.
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