Franciscan Spirit Blog

A Tribute to Friar Jack Wintz

Gentle and Determined

Jack’s first article in St. Anthony Messenger, about St. Anthony’s sermon on Moses and the bronze serpent, was published in the March 1961 issue, two years before Jack was ordained. He continued to contribute articles and poems until the summer of 1972 when he returned from three years of teaching in the Philippines. In typical Jack fashion, he came via Italy where he interviewed Franco Zeffirelli, who was filming Brother Sun, Sister Moon.

I always admired Jack’s writing in St. Anthony Messenger—clear, personal, and reflecting his worldwide sense of Church. I am grateful for my three years as his associate editor and for his help when I became editor. He always made good contributions to the company’s Publisher’s Board. Jack was an excellent photographer whose interviews with celebrities, politicians, and Church leaders were widely read. His articles on foreign countries graced many of our covers.

I had already written several Catholic Updates before I wrote “How to Get the Most Out of Lent” (March 1976). Immediately following Leonard Foley, OFM’s issue on the New Rite of Penance, orders for these two Catholic Updates helped begin the sale of back issues. Over the years, Jack took full advantage of the liturgical calendar in selecting topics. Jack combined gentleness and determination in a uniquely Franciscan way. –Pat McCloskey, OFM

More Than Words

It has been said that a cluttered environment can lead to great creativity. If that is true, then it’s no wonder Friar Jack was such a fountain of creativity. For amid the coffee mugs, papers, and pictures all over his office lived an unbelievably creative and talented man. Over the many years I worked with Jack, I watched the way he would almost effortlessly—or at least it seemed that way to me—turn an idea into a work of art in the form of an article, a book, or a newsletter.

As a less experienced writer than Jack, I always appreciated the gentle but helpful ways that he reviewed my writing and offered suggestions for improvement. I always took those suggestions because they made me a better writer.

But what I always loved most about Jack was not his mentoring of me as a writer but his support for me as a mother. After the birth of each of my children—as well as many other times over the years—Jack reached out to me with notes of encouragement and care. He was a constant cheerleader for me outside of the writing world.

While I will always remember Jack for the amazing interviewer, writer, editor, and creative soul that he was, I will remember him more for his amazing heart. That’s what will be missed the most. –Susan Hines-Brigger

Always a Winner

I interviewed at St. Anthony Messenger in 2001. The first person I spoke to was Jack Wintz, OFM, the editor at the time. My initial read of this friar: teddy bear. As I got to know him, that impression stuck. Jack was a softy—a jovial man who was quick to laugh. But his sweetness belied a fierce intellect and talent. His editorial feedback, early in my career, helped shape me into the writer I am today.

Jack traveled far in service to the readers of the magazine. I have many memories of him seemingly tethered to his desk and pounding away at his keyboard. He was prolific and tireless. But it’s his humor that I’ll remember most. In 2006, he was nominated for the Catholic Media Association’s St. Francis de Sales award—the highest achievement for a Catholic journalist—and one that eluded him after several nominations. I sat next to him during the awards banquet. As the presenter read the list of nominees, Jack turned to me in a sort of panic.

“Chris, quickly, who’s the soap opera actress who was nominated for all those Emmys before winning?”
“Susan Lucci,” I whispered.
“Got it—thanks.”

Minutes later, they announced Jack as the winner. When he took to the podium, he said, to the delight of the crowd, “What a relief! I was becoming the Susan Lucci of this award.”

Funny, warm, relatable—that was Friar Jack. And always a winner. –Christopher Heffron

A Quiet Force

Among my fellow editors, I had the least amount of experience with Friar Jack Wintz. And yet he left a lasting impression on me, and his prowess as a storyteller will serve as an inspiration to me as I seek to grow and evolve as a journalist. By the time I joined the editorial team in July 2014, Friar Jack was in the twilight of his career. We were but ships passing in the night, but I had the great fortune to meet him and break bread.

I remember a lunch with Friar Jack and another editor at a beloved Cincinnati culinary staple, Skyline Chili. We talked shop while enjoying some regional cuisine. I had begun work on an article on director Martin Scorsese and was fretting a bit about how to pull the story together.

An ace journalist who shared stories of faith from Hollywood stars such as Martin Sheen and Gene Kelly, Friar Jack listened patiently as I detailed how I hoped the article would turn out. Soft-spoken, but with sage advice, Friar Jack shared with me some pointers on how to mold the article from the raw material I had to work with.

Although I knew him for only a short time, I’ll forever be grateful for our paths crossing. –Daniel Imwalle

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