The Observer Takes Eight CPA Awards in Canada
July 6, 2017

DIOCESE—The Observer staff won eight awards, including a first place for the diocesan directory and a second for newspaper of the year from among 2,688 submissions in 338 categories in the Catholic Press Association contest.

The awards were announced  during a banquet at the Catholic Media Conference in Quebec City, Canada, June 23.

The diocesan directory, which is judged in the book awards division, received its third first place award since 2011. It has been singled out for honors every year but one since then.

The judge wrote of the 2016-17 edition, “Exceptionally presented with a personal touch: photos of all the diocesan staff, priests and deacons. Photos of all the chuches with historical and current data make this a valuable reference tool. A hands-down winner.”

The Observer was second to The Compass of the Green Bay Diocese and came in ahead of the Catholic Herald of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in the newspaper of the year category for small-circulation papers.

“A well-written and professionally designed paper,” wrote the judge. “Interesting use of color and photos; their section ‘Around the Diocese’ includes in-depth, well-researched stories. Vibrant, energetic photgraphy to accompany some excellent original content. Relevant to a wide variety of readers. The front page, especially, captures attention and invites readers to dive deeper into the paper. There’s a good combination of bite-sized and long-form articles.”

The paper took both second and third places in the category on reporting on sacraments.

The second, cited as an “interesting way to portray the four different events,” went to coverage of the 2016 Be Reconciled Day, the annual diocese-wide celebration of confession on the Wednesday before Holy Week.

“Priests Inspired by and for People Who Come to Be Reconciled Day” was written and photographed by Amanda Hudson, The Observer news editor; Margarita Mendoza, El Observador editor; and correspondents Louise Brass and Tony Carton.

The third place award went to “Blessings Mark World Day of the Sick in Freeport” written and photographed by The Observer editor Penny Wiegert.

“The quotes and comments throughout the article make this a winner. They convey the sense of emotion felt on this special occasion. Well done,” wrote the judge.

Hudson also took a third place for her monthly column, “Person in the Pew,” for the best column about spiritual life.

“Lots of worthy entries in this category, and these stood out as columns that did exactly what the title suggests: (present) the insights of one person in the pews,” wrote the judge. “Makes connections to readers and strives to be topical. Very difficult to do, and she accomplishes it all with professionalism and insight.”

Hudson also took third place  in the reporting on vocations category for “From God, For God: Father Joel Lopez Uses His Gifts to Bring Others to God.”

“Father Joel Lopez ... breaks into song during his homilies and is a melodious addition to funerals and weddings,” wrote the judge. “Yes, he is a singing priest, and this well-written story reveals why. ... The only thing missing in this story is a sound track.”

Honorable mentions for news writing on a local or regional event went to Carton for a remebrance of a Rock Falls family killed in a fire and to Hudson for coverage of the last Barn Sale managed by St. Peter Parish in Geneva.