A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Pastor Johann Ettinger

by Stefan Schmied
Translated by
Gerald "Jerry" Thomas Boyle

      The notable theologian and spiritual counselor, Johann Ettinger, is one of the most important personalities of the Sathmar Germans. Born on January 5, 1883, he was ordained a priest on June 30, 1907, at the conclusion of his studies. His fruitful work in Scheindorf began on July 28, 1914, after Bishop Boromisza had appointed him as pastor on July 14, 1914. The new pastor hardly had time to get settled, when mobilization of the soldiers began. 

      In spite of his Hungarian upbringing and education, Pastor Ettinger was the first Sathmar Swabian intellectual after World War I to allow traditional singing. When Bishop Boromisza opposed the introduction of the mother tongue in the teachings in the Swabian communities and ordered an opinion poll regarding this, the Scheindorf Swabians decided unanimously under Ettinger's leadership to use German in teaching. The faithful in the rest of the parishes, in the dispute between the state and community, took the same position as their pastor. Unfortunately, at that time in Sathmar, there was only one Pastor Ettinger!

      Because of his poor health and the delicate situation of opposing the Hungarian bishop and being among Hungarian-minded colleagues, Ettinger was not openly political or popular. However, he was a German priest to his Swabian people, and he experienced in his isolated parish every phase of the development of freedom for Swabians in Sathmar with endless happiness and the endless pain of his sensitive nature.

      Pastor Ettinger and the community of Scheindorf were both a model and hope for the Swabian movement. This fact was even known by the diocese. In 1928, when Ettinger wanted financial help for the teacher of the religious school from the bishop, he received the following answer on March 14: "The bishop's office cannot grant your application, since the Swabian movement has caused a lot of trouble for the last ten years, and has been especially supported in the parish of Scheindorf". At the same time, the Catholic diocese of Sathmar supported the Hungarian party and their candidate, Arpad Paal.

      Johann Ettinger in 1928 distributed German prayer and hymn books, and made therein an important contribution to the religious and cultural life of the Sathmar Swabians.

      When the breakdown in 1945 forced the religious school to close its doors, it was Pastor Ettinger who opened the first and only elementary school in Scheindorf. Two years later, on July 29, 1947, he closed his eyes for the last time in Scheindorf. Since he was able to serve both the faith and his people, Johann Ettinger became a shining example for the Sathmar Swabians.

[Published at 29 Sep 2006 by Jody McKim Pharr]

Heritage Collections Boyle Schmied