Devotion to Mary explodes as José Nicolás Nava of San Martin de Porres Parish in Dayton prepares for an Aztec dance in December 2019 at St. Alexander Church in Cornelius. El Centinela, the Spanish-language newspaper for western Oregon, won eight Catholic Press Association awards this year. (José Salamé/Catholic Sentinel)
Devotion to Mary explodes as José Nicolás Nava of San Martin de Porres Parish in Dayton prepares for an Aztec dance in December 2019 at St. Alexander Church in Cornelius. El Centinela, the Spanish-language newspaper for western Oregon, won eight Catholic Press Association awards this year. (José Salamé/Catholic Sentinel)

The Catholic Sentinel and El Centinela earned 32 prizes during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference. 

The gathering, which convened more than 400 Catholic communicators from the United States and Canada, was to be held in Portland this year but took place online instead because of the coronavirus pandemic. Plans call for Portland to host in 2022.

The Sentinel took second in general excellence among newspapers of its frequency and size, behind only the Catholic Standard of Washington, D.C.

The paper has “excellent local coverage on stories that go beyond the Catholic Church and touch on issues within the Portland community,” wrote the judges, who come from secular and Catholic publications and academic institutions. “The layout, the section variety and photography all make this entry award-worthy.”

Sentinel staffer Katie Scott was among the most decorated on the day. Scott was named second in individual excellence among writers at Catholic newspapers across the United States and Canada, no matter their size.

“The stories in this package are amazing,” wrote the judges. They demonstrate “the research and interviewing we would expect from a great news writer, as well as the observation skills, description, creative storytelling and recognition of emotion that we would expect from a great feature writer.”

Scott took first place honors for newswriting on a national topic for her exploration of how the immigration crackdown has prevented some undocumented domestic abuse victims from seeking assistance.

Also earning first was Scott’s personality profile of Jesuit Father Gary Smith, who has befriended people who live on the streets of Portland.

In reporting on the option for the poor and vulnerable, Scott won first place for a look at the foot-care ministry at St. André Bessette Parish in downtown Portland.

Scott and managing editor Ed Langlois teamed up to claim first place for an assessment of the changes, challenges and possible solutions at St. Francis Dining Hall in Southeast Portland.

Judges said the story was well written and “did a wonderful job of humanizing homelessness and the struggles that take place when the Catholic spirit of helping conflicts with neighborhood growth and policy.”

In reporting on ecumenical and interfaith issues, Scott’s piece on marriages in which couples don’t share religious beliefs took second place. Her profile of a Mount Angel seminarian who is blind gained third place in reporting on vocations. “Good photos, good writing and humor make this a joy to read,” the judges wrote of the profile.

Scott earned honorable mention in both immigration coverage and in-depth reporting categories for her story on how anxiety levels have surged among immigrant children during the increase in deportations.

Her analysis of women seeking to build a new life after prison got honorable mention, as did her profile of Oregon’s consecrated virgins and her look at sex trafficking in Oregon. Also earning honorable mention was Scott’s profile of a Catholic who fights wildfires in the West.

In individual excellence for business and advertising staff, the Sentinel’s Bob Jaques was second among all Catholic newspapers on the continent.

The judges praised Jaques for his “outstanding leadership” and the “terrific content” of his advertising work.

Second place among newspapers of all sizes went to Langlois’ editorial suggesting that those who think science can’t support the real presence in the Eucharist are using an outdated model of atomic theory. The piece shows “how uncomplicated and short sentences make a real impact on the reader.” They said it has the classic structure called for in an editorial: “The issue is stated, the facts and arguments are laid out, and a call for action is made.”

The Sentinel’s Viewpoints section was named third best in North America.

Langlois took second place in investigative journalism among newspapers of all sizes for his look at how some religious movements curb the free thinking and actions of church members.

“This article provides many warning signs that people should know so they can protect themselves,” said the judges. “A great public service to publish this piece.”

The Sentinel and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Portland earned third place for a special supplement on the work of Catholic Charities to build resilience through relationships.

“Each article is compelling and is accompanied by vivid images,” the judges wrote. “This issue is cleanly organized and easy to read.”

Clayton Smith of Catholic Youth Organization/Camp Howard took third place in sports photography for his photo of a key moment in a game between The Madeleine and St. Therese eighth grade boys.

Sentinel staffer Sarah Wolf received honorable mention for her infographic illustrating prison recidivism.

Honorable mention went to layout editor Kristen Hannum for her work on a photo spread of the Zomi people of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Southeast Portland. Hannum also was honorably mentioned for her layout of a story and photos on Eastern Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Portland.

Hannum, Langlois, Wolf and Scott won honorable mention in the category of sacramental celebrations for their four vignettes of people joining the church in 2019.

Among Spanish-language publications of all sizes, Patricia Montana of El Centinela worked a double play, winning first place for newswriting on cultural heritage with her look at local altars of the dead and first place for reporting on youths with her look at the effects of screen time on young people.

The story on local altars “struck a nice balance between general information about the holiday and anecdotes from individuals,” wrote the judges. “There was enough information provided for those who knew little or nothing about Dia de los Muertos and enough to keep it interesting for those who are already familiar. This was the perfect piece for the culture category.”

Former El Centinela editor Rocío Rios won second place for her story on a young cyclist who rode more than 4,000 miles to learn about refugees and raise awareness about the issue.

Second place went to Montana for her story on summer faith formation programs for children. She also took second for a story on the work of an inspiring Oregon missionary, Jesuit Father Guillermo Ameche. Judges called the piece “very well written” and said its contents give “hope for our Catholic Church.”

Honorable mention for reporting on marriage went to Montana’s report on a joyful group marriage at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Salem.

Also receiving honorable mention were Montana’s report on the move to evangelize in western Oregon and her colorful multiphoto package on the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration in western Oregon.

The Archdiocese of Portland took second place in the category of “Best Diocesan Fundraising Appeal – Produced by a Communications Department” for its 2019 Seminarian Appeal. The Communications Office, Stewardship & Development and Vocations teamed up on the campaign, with special dedication from Claudette Jerez and Emily Bush from the communications team.