Catholic Spirit wins second place at annual Catholic press awards

| June 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Catholic Spirit captured second place for general excellence among larger circulation non-weekly diocesan newspapers in the annual journalism competition of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was rated second only to Catholic New York, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York, which earned first place for general excellence.

The Catholic Spirit gathered 13 additional awards, including four first-place awards for writing, design and special sections. The awards were presented June 3 at the annual Catholic Media Conference, held this year in St. Louis.

In commenting about The Spirit’s three-consecutive-issue entry in the General Excellence category, judges noted “strong writing, interesting topics, nice pictures,” and termed The Catholic Spirit “excellent in general!”

Competing against all newspapers, The Catholic Spirit earned several awards, including:

  • First place for Best Regular Supplement or Special Issue for The Spirit’s annual World Mission Sunday pull-out section, a collaboration of newspaper’s designer Caron Olhoft and staff member Bob Zyskowski and the Center for Mission’s Deacon Mickey Friesen and Eric Simon. Judges commented: “The smallest supplement entered packed the largest wallop. This is the Jamaica that cruise ship vacationers never want to see, and the front-page picture shows why, a collection of junk pulled together for shelter a family calls home in this second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The efforts by Catholic leadership is hampered by the lack of church members, but we still get a glimpse of church efforts along with a colonial history that led to today’s misery beyond the beaches.”
  • Third place for Best Tabloid-Size Front Page. The judges said the three-consecutive-issue entry was “compelling packaging that certainly draws attention. Fun to look at.”
  • Honorable mention for Best Coverage of Immigration by Jessica Trygstad and Zyskowski.

Competing against other larger circulation non-weekly diocesan newspapers, The Catholic Spirit earned seven awards, two which won first place.

Stories by members of The Catholic Spirit news team and columnist Father Michael Van Sloun earned first place for Best Coverage of the Year of Mercy. Judges noted: “Wonderful, strong article and layout on feeding the hungry, with terrific quotes. The accompanying sidebars discussing the works of mercy and going a bit more in depth on feeding the hungry offer both the biblical and human perspectives. Congratulations on deciding to feature real people and telling their stories as you continue your series of the Year of Mercy. Kudos too for the selection of artwork to help distinguish the series.”

The Spirit also took first place for Best Coverage of Vocations to Priesthood, Religious Life or Diaconate. “Ordination: A priest forever,” the 2015 edition of the newspaper’s annual ordination coverage, was written by various members of the news team and photographed by Hrbacek. Judges noted: “Well written and beautifully presented, this comprehensive section not only focuses on seven new priests, but also on one family’s reaction to their son’s decision and on advice from the pope challenging new priests to avoid boring homilies and to preach from the heart. And the articles focusing on the new priests also were well crafted, allowing readers to see these men as individuals shaped by such diverse influences as motorcycles, caddying, music, health issues and, yes, the Bible. A complete package.”

Hrbacek’s piece about a seminarian who is a star running back for the University of St. Thomas football team won first place for Best Sports Journalism feature story. Judges had this to say about “Jordan Roberts: SJV ball carrier, faith warrior”: “Highly descriptive feature, loaded with poignant details, about how the faith conversion of a college football player led him to enter the seminary while still on the playing filed. Excellent reporting on what led to the conversion and great quotes to bring it to life.”

Trygstad and Hrbacek were awarded third place for Best Coverage of the Year of Consecrated Life. Judges’ commented: “Nice package of stories. . . . Good personal touch . . . well photographed.”

Hrbacek’s story, “U of M parish to usher 17 into Church at Easter” earned third-place honors in the category of Best Coverage of a Routine, Sacramental Event. Judges said: “This is a well-done story that uses an interesting narrative to address RCIS and the sacraments. Good use of quotations throughout to give a sense of personality to those featured.”

Hrbacek also earned third-place honors for Best Personality Profile, for “Stricken by cancer, defined by faith,” for his story about local St. Paul’s Outreach missionary Joe Hall. Judges called it “a story of overcoming and transcending severe obstacles of illness through grace and faith.”

Trygstad earned a third-place in the Best Feature Writing category for her piece, “Finding beauty amid pain: Divorce in the Church.” Judges said: “A helpful and well-written explanation of efforts, staring with Pope Francis, to encourage Catholics to offer love, respect and help to those among them who are divorced. And, in the process, the story also encourages the divorced to remain faithful while guiding both groups through Catholic teachings on divorce and marriage. A lot to cover in one story, but this effort succeeds.”

Catholic Spirit editor Maria Wiering earned a third-place for Best Background News Writing for “A year after Doe 1.” Judges commented: “Good piece of reporting that tackles a continually difficult topic: child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. The forward-looking story provides an informative and detailed description of how former adversaries are working together to eradicate sex abuse in the Church without unnecessarily dwelling on the past. Solid reporting through and through.”

Wiering also earned a second-place award for a piece she wrote for Family Foundations, magazine of The Couple to Couple League. Her story, “Reawakening the imagination” was recognized in the Best Essay Origination with a Special Interest Magazine category.

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