Associate Editor Michael Swan with the three first-place prizes he received at the annual Canadian Church Press Awards of Merit. Photo by Evan Boudreau

The Catholic Register wins 15 awards at Church Press gala

  • May 22, 2012

TORONTO - With associate editor Michael Swan taking three first-place prizes, The Catholic Register led all Catholic publications by winning 15 Awards of Merit on May 11 at the annual Canadian Church Press awards banquet.

In total, The Register won four first-place awards, six seconds, three thirds and two honourable mentions.

“It was a remarkable year for our team of reporters, editors and designers,” said Publisher and Editor Jim O’Leary. “We work hard to bring our readers quality journalism so it’s heartening when a panel of impartial judges recognizes the work we do.”

Swan, a multiple award winner in previous years, won first place in the categories of best news story and best colour photograph for his reporting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings last summer. He also shared a first-place award with Sheila Dabu Nonato, Carolyn Girard and Luc Rinaldi for in-depth treatment of a news event for The Register’s commemorative section that celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Jesuits in Canada.

“We’ve had great stories to tell,” said Swan, who also won a third-place award for feature writing. “I’m grateful for the awards but also grateful for the Church that gives us a great story to tell every day.”

Judge Mark Bourrie said Swan’s “writing is superb” and called his award-winning article on the TRC hearings “a really solid piece of reporting on what must have been a very difficult assignment.”

Judge Miguel Vadillo praised Swan’s photograph of an emotional woman giving testimony at the TRC. “The image captures the entire story,” Vadillo said.

Swan also wrote the main article in the feature section that recounted four centuries of Jesuit history in Canada.  Bourrie called the section “a collector’s item . . . well-deserving of praise and recognition.”  

The Register’s other first-place award went to John Bentley-Mays in the category of media review. Judge Marsha Lederman called his writing “concise, smart, clear and interesting.”

Youth editor Vanessa Santilli earned two second-place awards, for The Register’s popular Youth Speak News pages and for a profile of CTV news anchor Lisa LaFlamme that judge Jerry Hames called “a perceptive interview” that was “written with clarity and sensitivity.”

Columnists Fr. Raymond de Souza and Robert Brehl also won second-place awards, de Souza for opinion writing and Brehl for general columns. Art director Lucy Barco took second place in front-page design for "The Catholic Vote" and The Register also won a second-place award for editorial writing for "Show Genuine Care".

Barco teamed with managing editor Mickey Conlon to take a pair of third-place awards in the categories of layout and design.


2012 CCP Winners

Full list of winners available to download as a PDF here.


The Catholic Register's Awards

The Catholic Register took home 15 awards in total, including four first-place awards. The full list of awards are listed below with judges comments in italics. Click on the links to view the commended entry.



Category: News Story – Newspaper

First Place – The Catholic Register - "TRC Calls Church to its ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ "
Author: Michael Swan

“The writing is superb. It is obvious the writer listened carefully to the testimony and had a good grasp of the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the abuse victims. A really solid piece of reporting on what must have been a very difficult arrangement.”

Category: Editorial – Newspaper

Second Place – The Catholic Register - "Show Genuine Care"
Author: Jim O’Leary

“A powerful positioning outlining the need for a strong, effective policy for First Nations in Canada. A very powerful call to account and a great introduction to an editorial position – well done!”


In‐Depth Treatment of a News Event – Newspaper

First Place – The Catholic Register - "Jesuits in Canada"
Authors: Michael Swan, Sheila Dabu Nonato, Carolyn Girard and Luc Rinaldi

“A tremendous amount of effort went into this special edition of The Catholic Register. The stories were consistently well‐written and interesting and the editorial copy was strongly backed by historical and modern images. It’s a collector’s item and is well‐deserving of praise and recognition.”

Features – Newsletter/Newspaper

Third Place – The Catholic Register - "Re‐examining a 400‐year Relationship"
Author and Photographer: Michael Swan

“Pretty good snapshot of life in Tulita – especially for kids. Culture comes through along with community.”

Opinion Piece – Newspaper

Second Place – The Catholic Register - "Poor, Misunderstood Fr. Cutié"
Author: Fr. Raymond de Souza

“The author makes it very clear, virtually from his first word, where he stands on the subject’s behaviour, and its implications for both the Catholic Church and Episcopal Church – and more broadly, readers themselves. There’s an unbroken thread of strength of conviction that winds its way through this piece, unerringly reminding the reader on an almost non‐stop basis why the author feels as he does. I remember the case well when the headlines first broke, and as sensational stories like this tend to do, it disappeared without a trace fairly quickly afterward. Why this piece works is simple: It reaches beyond the headlines and shares an honest, sharply worded perspective on what this story ultimately means, and what it says about behaviours and consequences. Sure, there’s more than a bit of personally‐targeted vitriol here, but that’s what makes it a crackling good read – that and the fact that opinion is clearly founded in subtly constructed guidance on the rules of the respective churches mentioned here. Media outlets – both mainstream and Church‐related – need to do more follow‐up‐type work, and this is an excellent example for them to follow.”

Column – Newspaper

Second Place – The Catholic Register - "Life is so much Better with Good Neighbours"; "There is Always Hope, and There is Always Faith"; "A Great Father‐Son Chat, and I Owe it to the Cemetery"
Author: Robert Brehl

“When I used to write a column for the local paper, I looked inward, to my family and immediate community of friends and neighbours, for inspiration. It’s heartening to see this author do the same and, more importantly, do it better than I ever could. Each of these pieces is a searingly personal view into the life of a seemingly decent husband, dad, family member and neighbour, who seems to stumble across teachable moments with incredible ease.”


Department – Newspaper

Second Place – The Catholic Register - "Youth Speak News ‐ August 14‐21, August 28 and September 4, 2011"
Editor: Vanessa Santilli

“Very cohesive and detailed stories on World Youth Day in Madrid, including reporting filed from that location. Strong focus and well‐written stories. An excellent section of news, features and contributors on the subject – the whole package.”

Letters to the Editor

Honourable Mention – The Catholic Register - "Readers Speak Out – Letters to the Editor"
Editor: The Catholic Register

“Impressive quantity and quality of submissions. Excellent content, tightly edited. Significant issues with clear positions, nothing serious or controversial are sidestepped.”

Media Review

First Place – The Catholic Register - "Enhancing Devotion by Painting with Light"; "Personal Animus Comes Through"; "Hollywood Keeps Dumbing Down the Demonic"
Author: John Bentley Mays

“John Bentley Mays has a number of things working for him to create the perfect storm for intelligent arts journalism from a Catholic perspective: he knows his art, he knows his religion, and he has the courage of his convictions. Also – his writing is excellent: concise, smart, clear and interesting. Even if the reader disagrees with this assessment, these columns are highly readable, thought‐provoking, and bring a new and intelligent perspective to something that the reader may have already been exposed to through the mainstream media. The range of topics covered was also impressive, and he seems equally comfortable with each subject. John Bentley Mays is a treasure and your readers are lucky to have him. Congratulations.”

Biblical Interpretation

Honourable Mention – The Catholic Register - "Worth Comes from God"
Author: Fr. Scott Lewis

“A most interesting, well‐composed and profoundly thoughtful column woven around the Hebrew concept, anawim, or faithful poor. Fr. Lewis finds this to be the common thread to the three readings. Using it, he helps make sense of what might otherwise seem like three unrelated and one obscure, Old Testament writing. Particularly engaging is the notion that a God‐centred humility “begins with honest self‐knowledge and acceptance of who we are”.”

Biographical Profile (Living or Dead) ‐ Newspaper

Second Place – The Catholic Register - "Reading the News and Keeping the Faith"
Author: Vanessa Santilli

“A perceptive interview with an interesting personality. Excellent interfaith quotes and wonderful recounting of her experience in Rome the day the Pope died. Written with clarity and sensitivity. A very good read and a well‐deserved second place!”


Colour Photo – Newspaper

First Place – The Catholic Register - "Laura Tabac Breaks Down"
Photographer: Michael Swan

“This image captures the entire story. The photographer managed to get a very important instant of the event.”

Newspaper/Newsletter Front Page

Second Place – The Catholic Register - "The Catholic Vote"
Designer: Lucy Barco

“A creative approach to a hard to illustrate topic. A very good example of how a simple illustration can be very effective.”

Layout and Design of an Edition – Newspaper/Newsletter

Third Place – The Catholic Register - "Christmas 2011"
Designers: Mickey Conlon and Lucy Barco

“Good use of art – overall appearance is clean, consistent. Overall easy to read.”


Feature Layout and Design – Newspaper

Third Place – The Catholic Register - "Raising Up Haiti"
Designers: Mickey Conlon and Lucy Barco

“A strong centre spread anchors the package. A good package overall.”

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