100 Years of Good News

100 Years of Good News

From June 22-24 in Pittsburgh, PA the Catholic Press Association (CPA) celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. There was lots of talk about the threats we face from the recession and changing media (think digital and mobile apps!) to lack of respect for the Catholic Church in the wake of the clergy sex-abuse scandal, increasing secularization and inadequate formation in the faith. 

Barbara Baker of St. Anthony Messenger Press and Jennifer Brinker of the "St. Louis Review" newspaper chat on the steps of St. Paul Cathedral following an Anniversary Mass.

But the 370 professionals—reporters and writers, editors and photographers, publishers and general managers, advertising and circulation people—who attended came away renewed in the ability to serve “the social, spiritual and intellectual needs of the entire human family, and to spread and support the Kingdom of God” (our purpose as specified in the constitution and bylaws). I am always renewed in spirit and mind after attending the annual convention. 

This was actually a Catholic media convention, which means that, besides print press people, it included members of the Catholic Academy of Communication Arts Professionals (radio/TV and public relations people and diocesan directors of communications). Also, the Association of Roman Catholic Communicators of Canada joined their U.S. counterparts. 

The success of the convention can be laid at the feet of Bob Lockwood, diocesan director of communications and general manager of Pittsburgh Catholic, and his staff, and Tim Walter, executive director of the CPA, and his staff. 

For me, the convention is an opportunity to see old friends and make new ones among people who care as much about the Church and journalism as I do. It’s a time to listen to experts about Catholic topics and demographic trends of which I need to be aware. It’s workshops about how to write editorials in the spirit of St. Francis de Sales (patron of the Catholic press) and information about new technologies such as iPads, iPhones and Tablets. 

It’s a time to share war stories and successes and failures—and discover we’re not alone. Because several of us are competitors as well as colleagues, this sharing calls for a great deal of trust. 

Awards Acknowledge Excellence

And then there’s the affirmation of awards. Since one of the purposes of the CPA is to raise the professional standards of the Catholic press, there is a large journalism competition among Catholic newspapers, magazines, newsletters of various types and Spanish-language publications—and a book competition. 

St. Anthony Messenger, its related periodicals, St. Anthony Messenger Press Books and Servant Books received 22 awards this year for work published in 2010: 

First-place awards

  • Best short story: “The Window Seat,” by Barbara Tylla  (St. Anthony Messenger, August)
  • Best essay, general-interest newsletters: “The Spirituality of Work,” by Kathy Coffey (Every Day Catholic, April)
  • Best column, family life: “Faith-filled Family,” by Susan Hines-Brigger, writer, and Mary Kurnick Maass, illustrator (St. Anthony Messenger)
  • Best coverage of the Year for Priests: “Year for Priests: Special Section,” by Marylynn G. Hewitt, S.F.O., Rose Pacatte, F.S.P., Christopher Heffron and Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. (St. Anthony Messenger, June)
  • Best in-depth writing: “Bringing Help and Hope to Haiti,” by Dr. Edgar A. Gamboa (St. Anthony Messenger, July)
  • Best feature article, general-interest newsletters: “Living Together: Why Wait for Marriage at All,” by Jim Healy, Ph.D. (Every Day Catholic, July)
  • General excellence, general-interest newsletters: Catholic Update, Jack Wintz, O.F.M., editor, John Feister, managing editor, Constance Wolfer, art director

Second-place awards

  • Best cover, one, two or three color, any size: “Faith and Marriage: When Spouses Have Different Beliefs,” by Constance Wolfer (Every Day Catholic, August)
  • Best essay, general-interest newsletters: “Seven Myths About the Catholic Church and Clergy Sex Abuse,” by David Gibson (Catholic Update, September)
  • Best illustration: “The Feast of All Saints: God’s Glorious Nobodies,” by Christiane Grauert (St. Anthony Messenger, November)
  • Best feature article, general-interest newsletters: “Spiritual or Religious? Why Not Both!” by Jim Vogt and Susan Vogt (Every Day Catholic, June)
  • Books, family life: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage, by Roy Petitfils (St. Anthony Messenger Press)

Third-place awards

  • Best cover, one, two or three color—any size: “Seven Myths About the Catholic Church and Clergy Sex Abuse,” by Constance Wolfer (Catholic Update, September)
  • Best short story: “Indoor Garden,” by Carol Madden Adorjan (St. Anthony Messenger, July)
  • Best essay, general-interest newsletters: “Open Hearts, Empty Arms—The Private Pain of Infertility,” by Julie Irwin Zimmerman (Every Day Catholic, May)
  • Best multiple picture package: “Earth’s Wonder and Magic,” by Barbara Beckwith, writer, and Jeanne Kortekamp, art director (St. Anthony Messenger, September)
  • Best interview: “Bridging Medicine and Theology: Daniel Sulmasy, O.F.M., M.D., Ph.D., by Barbara Beckwith (St. Anthony Messenger, May)
  • Best feature story, general-interest newsletters: “Changing How We Pray,” by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick (Catholic Update, August)
  • Books, Scripture: Wisdom for Everyday Life From the Book of Revelation, by Father Richard Veras (St. Anthony Messenger Press)
  • Books, first-time author: How to Get to ‘I Do,’ by Amy Bonaccorso (Servant Books)
  • Books, gender issues: Weaving Faith and Experience: A Woman’s Perspective, by Patricia Cooney Hathaway (St. Anthony Messenger Press)

Honorable mention

  • General excellence, national general-interest magazines: St. Anthony Messenger, Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., editor, Barbara Beckwith, managing editor, and Jeanne Kortekamp, art director

The Unsung Heroine Here

That list means all but one person on the editorial staff of St. Anthony Messenger and Catholic Update received an award. And since Every Day Catholic won a couple of awards as well, that means the work of newsletter editor Joan McKamey was recognized as well. 

But the one person not named did all the work of putting our submissions together and fussed that everything that got electronically uploaded correctly for the competition. She helps deal with out-of-house writers, types the editor’s letters and keeps us all organized. That person is our editorial assistant, Sharon Tomko Greenberg. She deserves our many thanks for all that she does so well. 

That’s the thing about awards. They recognize the out-front people but not all the support people who make any publication—or large enterprise—work. 

What Was Our Take-away?

Besides our slew of awards, with what did we come away? Actually, some humility. There’s a whole cadre of dedicated professionals struggling to serve the Church against great odds. Despite the variety of our publications and books, our differences of liberal and conservative bents, of audiences and media formats, we all work at building up the Kingdom of God. 

I am proud to have been a part of this effort. I just hope we are meeting your needs as readers. We vow to keep trying.


About the Author

Barbara Beckwith is the managing editor of "St. Anthony Messenger" magazine. A graduate of Marquette University’s College of Journalism, she is a former president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and former vice president of the International Catholic Union of the Press.