Published May 31, 2007
The Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, which held its annual national convention May 23-25, honored The Georgia Bulletin with 14 awards at the final banquet, including awards for its regular columnists and its one-year anniversary coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
The 2007 Catholic Media Convocation is held as a combined convention for both the Catholic Press Association, based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and the Catholic Academy of Communication Arts Professionals, based in Dayton, Ohio. This year the CPA for the second year commissioned judges through the American Press Institute to judge the competition. The convention was held at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.
In the category of best regular column on spiritual life, first place went to Father James S. Behrens, OCSO, of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. In making the award, judges wrote, “A beautiful sky and a locked-out cat, a bamboo forest and a blue truck, a set of train tracks and the lamp on the train’s caboose—all of these are the subjects of Father Behrens’ writing, and it is in these seemingly mundane objects and occurrences that he finds cause to revel in his ultimate subject—God. Behrens’ writing is much like his monastic life—spare and contemplative…(He) relies on his life to be a window into the world, not a door that shuts him away from it. His elegant, eloquent prose becomes a powerful vehicle that bridges the gap between himself and his readers, renewing them by finding uncommon spiritual insight in the common, encouraging them to marvel at the world around them, and reminding them to find God in the everyday.”
Best regular column –general commentary second place went to Lorraine V. Murray, a regular contributor to The Bulletin. Judges noted that “this writer could have been a painter. Through the vehicle of personal situations, the writer takes readers to a time and place, filling scenes with sound and color, then transports them to a broader plain of intellectual and spiritual meaning … The pieces turn not to tears, but appeal instead to the wonder and power of a universal faith and truth.”
The Bulletin won five awards for coverage of recovery efforts in the year after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005. In the category best news writing on a national event, reporter Erika Anderson received second place for her Aug. 24 story “As Waters Receded, God’s Lessons Began to Flow” about the plight of one woman’s family to survive Katrina and the assistance provided by Georgia teens. Judges wrote that “Anderson’s story is not long, but by allowing Tanya Taylor to tell much of it herself, it conveys a great deal, both about the struggle to survive and about Taylor herself. For example, Taylor recounts her reluctance to have a group of Georgia teens paint her home when others needed more. But looking at her yellow living room, Taylor acknowledges that she had ‘really underestimated the power of paint’…”
Anderson also received first place in the category best reporting on teenagers for her Aug. 24 story “Famed Marching Band Returns with ‘Sweet Relief’” regarding the band at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, the city’s first Catholic high school for African-American boys, which opened in 1951. Judges referred to its quote, “I have nothing left, but I have this band” when they wrote that “It’s possible any member of the Marching 100 could have said this quote, attesting to the importance of this story, not just for local Catholics in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but for Americans across the country. Anderson told this story—of students struggling to carry on, facing the bull of life, fighting to return to normalcy—with grace.”
Staff photographer Michael Alexander received a third-place award in the category of best scenic, still life or weather photo for his Sept. 14, 2006 image of a rosary found amidst the debris of a house destroyed by Katrina, entitled “Finding Faith in Misery.” Judges wrote “this is a brilliant little still life image that demonstrates the photographer’s ability to see even the smallest details at a time that can be overwhelming.” In the category of best photo-illustration he also received third-place for his photo essay on Sept. 14 of “The Glorious Crosses of Atlanta” with design by Thomas Schulte and text by executive editor Mary Anne Castranio. In addition, the entire Aug. 24, 2006, issue on Katrina recovery received an honorable mention in the one-shot special section category. And reporter Priscilla Greear received an honorable mention for best reporting on senior citizens for her feature in that issue on the ministry during and following Katrina of Atlanta native Father Royce Mitchell entitled “81-Year-Old Priest Happy He Can Serve Rebuilding Church.”
In other categories, Alexander received honorable mention for best feature photo for the Dec. 14, 2006, front-page image of Our Lady of the Assumption Church’s new worship space entitled “OLA’s New Church Sails with Spiritual Fervor.” In the category best general news photo he received honorable mention for the Nov. 16 photo “Consoling Mother on All Soul’s Day.”
Anderson also received a third-place award for best reporting on young adults for her story on May 5, 2006, on Father Ricardo Bailey’s regular spiritual reflections connected to pop culture on Q100 FM entitled “Priest Hits Atlanta’s Airwaves on Popular Radio Show.” Judges wrote, “her spot-on first-hand report chronicles Bailey’s shift at 6:30 a.m., the Monday morning after Easter. Is there a better time to show a priest’s dedication?”
Greear also received a second-place award for personality profile for newspapers of over 40,000 circulation for her April 20, 2006, story on Dr. Mathew Sikorski of Our Lady of the Assumption Church, entitled “Polish Catholic’s Holocaust Memories Preserved in Book.” Judges found that “it not only sketches an interesting personality but it also tells some fascinating history of the Holocaust that isn’t well known.”
Greear received third place for best reporting on teenagers for her March 16, 2006, story on the Marist School Model Arab League for area high schools, the first one on the high school level, entitled “Students Learn Arab Politics in Popular Marist Program.” And for best seasonal issue, The Georgia Bulletin’s June 22, 2006, Eucharistic Congress issue received third place.