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Black Catholics aplenty in the 2022 Catholic Press Awards

Black Catholics and topics of interest to African Americans were in no short supply among winners and honorees at the Catholic Media Conference on Thursday night.

The winners of the 2022 Catholic Press Awards were announced on July 7th, part of the proceedings of the Catholic Media Conference held last week in Portland, Oregon. The annual event gathers members of the Catholic press from around the United States and Canada for networking, support, and fellowship, and was back in person for the first time since 2019.

A number of Black Catholics were honored during the ceremony on Thursday night, spanning virtually all categories—despite the ongoing dearth of Black journalists on staff in the Catholic media world.

An op-ed and interview for America Magazine from Fr Bryan Massingale, on the 2021 coup attempt at the US Capitol, received an honorable mention for Best Multimedia Package (Violence in Our Communities). The video itself took first place for Best Use of Live Video in Social Media.

Catholic News Service and Dr. Shannen Dee Williams took second place for Best Regular Column (General Commentary) with “The Griot’s Cross,” Williams’ monthly reflections on Black Catholic history. The publication also received an honorable mention for Best Reporting on Vocations (Series) with a piece featuring Sr Josephine Garrett, CSFN, who professed final vows in 2020.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Clarion Herald took first place for Best Print Special (One-time) with “The Gift of Priesthood”, an extensive insert featuring among its writers Bishop (now Archbishop) Shelton Fabre.

Second Place for Best Print Special Supplement (Regular) went to The Record for their piece “Gift of Blackness brings life to the Church”, co-created by Charmein Weathers of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry.

US Catholic won second place for Best Coverage (Racial Inequities), which included columns from Massingale and Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ. Third place went to St. Anthony Messenger in the same category for its pieces on Catholic anti-racism, including a reflection from Deacon Art Miller. Honorable mentions went to the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Catholic Review and the Horizon journal from the National Religious Vocation Conference—which featured pieces from Sr Anita Baird, DHM; Dcn Patrick Winbush, OSB; and Sr Gayle Lwanga Crumbley, RGS.

Saint-Jean, a seminarian with the Jesuits, also took second place for Best Book by a Small Publisher, for his devotional text “The Spiritual Work of Racial Justice: A Month of Meditations with Ignatius of Loyola”.

Horizon also picked up a win for Best Essay (Religious Order Magazines) with a piece from Sr Addie Lorraine Walker, SSND. Third place for Best Feature Article (Professional and Special Interest) also went to the magazine for its multi-author reflection from young entrants into religious life, including my own journey with the Josephites. Among the honorable mentions in the category was a piece on anti-racism from Fr Josh Johnson for Our Sunday Visitor’s The Priest.

Detroit Catholic's Valaurian Carter took home the win for Best Photograph (Spot News) for her work on a story celebrating Father's Day during the Year of St. Joseph. Michael Alexander, a former photographer for the Georgia Bulletin from the Archdiocese of Atlanta), received an honorable mention for Best Photo Gallery or Slide Show with his work on the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings shortly before his retirement.

The book awards also featured a number of Black authors and topics, including “Desire, Darkness, and Hope: Theology in a Time of Impasse” from editors Laurie Cassidy and Black Catholic theologian M. Shawn Copeland, and featuring essays from a number of scholars including Massingale and Andrew Prevot. The book won second place for Theology (Morality, Ethics, Christology, Mariology, and Redemption).

Second place for First Time Author went to Afro-Latina writer and journalist Olga M. Segura for her “Birth of a Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church”. An honorable mention in the History category went to the “Black Catholic Studies Reader” from editor Fr David Endres, which won second place for best Anthology.

Second place for books on Faithful Citizenship/Religious Freedom went to Black theologian Sherine Green’s co-authored text “Awakening to the Violence of Systemic Racism,” written with Vince Gallagher. “Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood” from editor Michael Heinlein took home first place in the Newly Canonized Saints category, with reflections from Black Catholics Fr Johnson, Gloria Purvis, and Sr Garrett.

Domonique Tolliver of Loyola University New Orleans took first place for Best Example of Social Justice for her piece on the Black community’s hesitancy to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Second place went to coverage of student-athletes and police brutality from DePaul University’s Depaulia newspaper, and a piece on medical racism from Barry University’s Barry Buccaneer came in third.

A video story from America covering the six African Americans on the path to sainthood won first place for Best Freestanding Presentation of Online Video (Catechesis), and a Florida Catholic story on Tameka Hanford, an African-American teacher at a Black Catholic school in Orlando, took third place for Best Multimedia Package (Social Justice Issues). Third place for Best Multimedia Package Series went to the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Standard for its “Black Catholic Voices” interview series, an early iteration of which won first place in the category last year.

For Best Use of Video on Social Media (News Organization), an America segment covering a young African-American priest in Chicago, Fr Michael Trail, and his experience receiving the COVID-19 vaccine took second place. The Diocese of Nashville won third place for Best Use of Graphics in Social Media with a vignette of Justin Farr, their lone African-American seminarian.

The University of Notre Dame’s Grotto Network received second place honors for Best Blog (Social Justice Issues) for their coverage of racial justice efforts, and the Catholic Health Association’s Health Progress mag took third place for Best Writing (In-Depth) with its piece on hesitancy in the Black community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Tablet from the Diocese of Brooklyn took second for Best Coverage (Racial Inequities) for a piece on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Tolton Spirituality Center. Third place went to the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis’ Catholic Spirit for their look at reactions to the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd; an accompanying photo won second place for Best Photograph (National/International Event).

National Catholic Reporter received an honorable mention for Best Personality Profile (Non-weekly, National newspaper or wire service) for its profile of the late Hazel M. Johnson, a Black Catholic known as the mother of the environmental justice movement. The Diocese of Charlotte’s Catholic News Herald and its look at the late Joseph Hunt, the first African-American to join the Knights of Columbus in North Carolina, took second place in the same category for non-weekly papers with 6-plus full-time staffers.

Arkansas Catholic from the Diocese of Little Rock topped all nominees for Best Reporting on a Special Age-Group (Young adults) with its coverage of resilience among local Black Catholic youths. Best Sports Journalism (Feature or Column) was won by The Criterion from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for a profile of Black Catholic NBA player Desmond Bane from the Memphis Grizzlies. First place in the Sports News subcategory went to the Tennessee Register for a piece on Black Catholic track star Adreanna Parlette.

A piece from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Angelus on the 99-year-old Black deacon Emile Adams Jr. took first place for Personality Profiles (Religious Leader), and second place went to St. Anthony Messenger for a biographical sketch of Cardinal Wilton Gregory. The Catholic University of America’s CatholicU won first place for Best Feature Article in the alumni magazine awards, with an article on the historic elevation of Gregory to the cardinalate.

In the general magazine division, the Josephite Harvest—the nation’s oldest missions magazine—continued its winning ways with a second-place finish for Best Use of Typography; Best Regular Colum (Religious Life) for offerings from Fr Donald Fest, SSJ; and first place for Best Coverage (Disaster or Crises) with its piece on Hurricane Ida’s impact on their parishes in the Gulf South. The magazine also received an honorable mention for Best Special Section.

FAITH Lansing won third place for Best Cover for Color (Large) for its piece on Deacon Tony and Susan Verdun, an African-American husband-and-wife duo who run a youth outreach ministry in Flint, Michigan. The article itself won third place for Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues (Call to Family, Community and Participation), and received honorable mentions for Best Title and Lead-In as well as Best Interview.

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues (Solidarity) was won by Horizon for a reflection piece from Fr David Kelly, CPPS, a Precious Blood Father who runs a racial reconciliation ministry on the South Side of Chicago.

One of the pieces from St. Anthony Messenger’s racism coverage, “The Sorrowful Mysteries of Racism” by poet and teacher Herman Sutter, took first place for Best Essay (National General Interest Magazines). First place for Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues (Dignity and Rights of the Workers) went to Catholic Review for a story on the Franciscan Center’s new culinary training outreach in Baltimore, directed by Black Catholic convert and chef Steven Allbright.

In the Communication division, the Jesuits took home a third-place win for Best Package (Political Issues) with a kit on Criminal Justice, as well as first place for Best Press Release with its announcement of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation—an organization aimed at addressing the infamous sale of 272 African-American slaves from Georgetown University in 1838.

First place for Best Writing (Sports) in the student division went to The Beacon from the University of Portland for its piece on a Black baseball player at the school who used the pandemic lockdown to work on his second passion of painting.

Other notable awardees

Member Awards

Best Podcast (Social Justice Issues)

Honorable mention: The Busted Halo Show,” a podcast from the Paulist Fathers, which features as a participant an African-American priest, Fr Steven Bell, CSP.


Best Coverage (Racial Inequities)

Honorable mention: The Record’s Ruby Thomas for her coverage of slaveholding in the Archdiocese of Louisville.



Second place: Mennonite author Gordon Oyer for his “Signs of Hope: Thomas Merton’s Letters on Peace, Race, and Ecology”.

Honorable mention: Jazz artist Deanna Witkowski for her “Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul”.

Catholic Social Teaching

Honorable mention: Retired Black prelate Edward Braxton for his “The Church and the Racial Divide: Reflections of an African American Catholic Bishop”.


Best Photograph (Portrait)

Honorable mention: The Knights of Columbus’ Columbia magazine for a pic of Santonio Hill, a Black Catholic youth outreach coordinator with Vagabond Missions.

Student Journalism

Best Presentation of Faith on Campus (Single Article)

Honorable mention: Domonique Tolliver of Loyola University New Orleans for her coverage of the mixed reaction to news of the Jesuits’ Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation.

Correction (7/11/22): Added info on award received by Detroit photographer Valaurian Carter.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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