Catholic Review's former managing editor dies

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BALTIMORE - Christopher Gaul, former reporter and managing editor of The Catholic Review, newspaper of the Baltimore Archdiocese, was remembered after his death Oct. 18 for his creative, careful and thorough approach to his work and as "a good Catholic journalist."

In 1995, when Gaul was the senior writer at the paper, his take on a preview of Pope John Paul II's visit to Baltimore was to write about the source of the 80,000 Communion hosts that would be consecrated during the papal Mass at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Gaul traced the story to the Kansas wheat field where the grains were grown, through their harvest and shipping to a New Jersey mill and to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Washington who made it into a simple dough. His story would later win one his numerous journalism awards from the Catholic Press Association.

Gaul, 72, died after a nearly yearlong battle with cancer. He worked at The Catholic Review beginning as a writer in 1995, before becoming associate and then managing editor. He also produced and hosted Catholic News Radio and Catholic Review TV. Gaul retired in 2005, but he continued to make freelance contributions to the newspaper.

"There are many people who are good journalists and there are many people who are good Catholics," said Medinger, head of Advertising Media Plus, and former associate publisher/editor of the Review. "But there are very few who are good Catholic journalists. He brought that sense of mission to his work in everything he did."

Gaul was born in Wallasey, England, came to the United States in 1953 and later served in the U.S. Army. Raised in the Church of England, he became a Catholic as a teen a few years after his mother joined the church in the late 1940s. Gaul's godfather was William E. Barrett, a well-known Catholic writer whose novels include The Left Hand of God.

In Baltimore, Gaul worked as a reporter for The Sun and The Evening Sun newspapers and as an investigative reporter and documentary film producer for CBS affiliate WJZ-TV. He also worked as a producer, writer and on-air correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television in Washington, covering the White House for public television. Other jobs included stints at Pittsburgh's public television station and Baltimore's NBC affiliate, WBAL-TV.

Gaul's soothing English accent was a familiar one to Baltimore television and radio audiences, also gracing the Catholic Review's website when Gaul recorded prayers posted there.

While at the Review, Gaul won the Eileen Egan Award for his coverage of Catholic Relief Services' outreach to earthquake victims in Turkey. He covered the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, teamed with Medinger to research and write a seven-part series called "Inside the Vatican," and also reported from Israel. For most of his years at Baltimore's Catholic newspaper, Gaul wrote a column about parish life.

In a 2005 interview with the Review, Gaul said working for the Catholic press was the most fulfilling experience of his career. Readers of Catholic publications "expect you to give them the truth about the faith and people of faith," he said.

Joseph Kirk Ryan, former managing editor of the Catholic Review and now editor of The Dialog, newspaper of the neighboring Diocese of Wilmington, Del., said Gaul was "born to be a journalist - whether in newspapers or broadcasting."

Ryan noted that as a convert, Gaul wore his Catholicism on his sleeve and often personified 'high dudgeon,' an indignation about the state of things that masked his love and concern for friends and the world."

Gaul, a father of six and grandfather of eight, had a deep devotion to Carmelite spirituality.

Msgr. James Farmer, pastor of St. John in Westminster, remembered his friend as a "very jovial man" who had a passion for golfing and raising champion show dogs with his wife, Pam.

"While he would laugh and kid around, he was also a very holy man," said Msgr. Farmer, one of Gaul's golfing buddies. "His faith deepened as he grew older. As his faith increased, he saw his writing at The Catholic Review as a form of ministry."

A wake was scheduled for Oct. 22 in Essex, Md., and a funeral Mass was set for the same day.

Matysek is assistant managing editor of The Catholic Review, newspaper of the Baltimore Archdiocese.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970