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May 21, 2012

TORONTO – The Western Catholic Reporter has won four first place awards in the annual competition among Canada's Christian newspapers and magazines put on by the Canadian Church Press.

The WCR also won a second place award for in-depth coverage of a news event for its 15-page supplement on the opening of the new St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College.

The supplement, titled A New Day Dawns, appeared in the Jan. 24, 2011 issue of the WCR and took many long hours of work from the newspaper's editorial and advertising staff.

Reporters Ramon Gonzalez and Chris Miller, and editors Glen Argan and Lasha Morningstar all contributed stories and photos to the supplement.

A New Day Dawns examined many facets of the seminary and college including their new library, the beautiful new seminary chapel, the commitment of faculty and students, and the institutions' histories.

The judge for that category, Mark Bourrie, a writer, historian and lecturer at Carleton University, called the supplement "a very thoughtful and celebratory examination of the opening of St. Joseph Seminary and issues surrounding the education of a new generation of priests."

Over all, the WCR won awards in seven of the eight categories in which it submitted entries.

WCR editor Glen Argan won the first prize for newspaper editorial writing for his "Alta. Government's Moral Blindness Jeopardizes our Future," a questioning of the provincial government's lack of moral reflection on the implications of rapid development of the Athabasca oilsands.

The judge, Stephen Heckbert, said the editorial is "An excellent example of how asking the question that seems obvious can produce outstanding results."

The editorial is "a very strong, very coherent view on the need for careful thought about resource development," wrote Heckbert, coordinator of the public relations program at Algonquin College.

Lasha Morningstar, the WCR news editor, won first prize for her monthly column, We Are One.

The judge, journalist Carmi Levy, said Morningstar "writes with a realistic sense of grittiness that is at once hard to watch but also impossible to look away from.

"The world is an imperfect place, and she manages to force us to look right at it, then wonder how we can – and should relate to it."

Argan also won the first prize for newspaper feature layout and design for his packaging of Gonzalez's article and photos on the Inner City Pastoral Ministry.

The judge, Gordon Preece, editorial art director of the Winnipeg Free Press, said the two-page spread published in the July 23 WCR was "simple but very effective."

Argan and Morningstar also won first prize for the layout and design of an entire issue of a newspaper for the Jan. 24, 2011 edition, which included the supplement on the seminary and college.

Preece of The Free Press, also the judge in this category, said the WCR is "overall an excellent product – easy to read and navigate through and worthy of a first place finish."

The WCR also won second prize for general excellence among regional newspapers. First prize went to The Christian Week of Winnipeg.

The judge, Toronto Star columnist Carol Goar, called the WCR "a fine regional newspaper that clearly connects with its readers."

"The Reporter has a clear mission and devotes the resources and energy required to fulfill it. Its reporters make the effort to attend events in person and talk to participants, bringing a human face to issues and events."

Preece also gave third place to the WCR for the design of its June 20 front page which featured a large photo of Pope Benedict talking with Rabbit Riccardo Di Segni and the headline, "Christians, Jews continue striving to better relations."