A Place to Call Home series among awards for writing for GSR, NCR

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A child sleeps in a tent April 4, 2017, at a shelter for people left homeless after mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia. (CNS/Reuters/Jaime Saldarriaga)
A child sleeps in a tent April 4, 2017, at a shelter for people left homeless after mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia. (CNS/Reuters/Jaime Saldarriaga)

The Associated Church Press and the Religion Communicators Council, two professional journalism and communications organizations, have recognized Global Sisters Report and the National Catholic Reporter for work in 2020, including reporting, columns and book reviews, as well as the overall GSR website.

GSR's yearlong A Place to Call Home series, which focused on homelessness and the response by sister congregations, won an ACP Award of Excellence, the highest honor, in the series category.

The award was announced April 8 during the organization's annual convention, held April 6-9 in conjunction with the conventions of the Religion Communicators Council and the Canadian Christian Communicators Association.

"Really wonderful stories about homelessness and housing as a human right," the judges said of the series, which examined the challenges of homelessness internationally and reported on the efforts of sister congregations to solve the problem.

"Catholic sisters around the world are so committed to helping those who are homeless, yet the scope and depth of their work exemplified in our A Place to Call Home series was surprising," said Gail DeGeorge, editor of Global Sisters Report. "It was quite challenging to complete such an ambitious series in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It's gratifying that the ACP awards recognized our efforts to highlight the sisters' ministries to people experiencing homelessness." 

GSR also won an Award of Merit in the category of in-depth reporting for its overall coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and received an honorable mention in the category of independent website.

In individual writing categories, St. Joseph Sr. Colleen Gibson's Horizons columns received an Award of Excellence for column writing. The judges called her work "a raw and honest exploration of faith within the Catholic tradition that celebrates both its richness and challenge from an engaged feminist perspective." The columns included reflections on the paschal mystery, personal blind spots and the example of St. Phoebe.

Chris Herlinger, GSR's international correspondent, was given an Award of Excellence for a book review of Svetlana Alexievich's oral history of World War II that appeared in NCR, and Joshua J. McElwee, NCR's Vatican correspondent and international news editor, received an Award of Excellence in the category of personal experience for his column on coronavirus realities in Italy.

McElwee also won two Awards of Merit, one in feature writing for an article on married priests and another in in-depth reporting for an article on Cardinal George Pell and Australia's plenary council.

GSR national correspondent Dan Stockman received honorable mention in the category of feature writing for his report on the death of 13 Felician sisters because of COVID-19.

Herlinger won several honors April 9 from the Religion Communicators Council awards, called the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards. In the periodical category, he won Best in Class for a profile of Presentation Sr. Mary Catherine Redmond and her pandemic experiences at a public hospital in the New York City borough of the Bronx.

"It is a story of a real-life crisis that still keeps hope alive. You can call Sr. Mary Catherine Redmond your friend, hero and hope you get to meet her one day," one judge said.

In the category of articles and stories, single work, Herlinger won an Award of Merit for a profile of Mercy Sr. Mary Scullion and her homeless ministry in Philadelphia, which was part of the A Place to Call Home series.

He also won certificates of appreciation for the introductory piece to the A Place to Call Home series and for reporting on congregations' plans to mark the 40th anniversary of the murders of four American churchwomen killed in El Salvador in 1980.

Founded in 1916, the Associated Church Press is the oldest interdenominational religious press association in North America. An Award of Excellence is the association's highest honor, followed by an Award of Merit and then honorable mention.

The Religion Communicators Council was founded in 1929 and gives annual DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards to council members who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations.