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May 4, 2016

TORONTO - For the second year in a row, the Western Catholic Reporter has been named the top regional Church newspaper in Canada.

The Canadian Church Press gave the general excellence award, as well as eight other awards to the WCR.

The CCP announced its award winners for 2015 publications April 30 at its annual conference in Toronto.

The CCP also gave first place awards to the WCR for the best news story and the best opinion article.

The judge in the general excellence category described the WCR as "professionally executed from front to back.

"The publication strikes a nice balance between regional, national and denomination-wide coverage. It is clearly engaged with its readership and issues a warm welcome for readers to engage with it."

Reporter Thandiwe Konguavi won the award for the best news story in any Church newspaper for her report on Edmonton's St. Thomas More Parish's mobilization to welcome Syrian refugees.

The judge said, "The writer took what could have been just another story about refugees and made it interesting by revealing the process whereby the wheels started rolling in Edmonton.

"The writer also shares with us the anxiety of the patriarch of one family. This story is complete. It creates interest, provides us with facts and tells readers how local initiatives are faring."

Austin Mardon, an advocate for the mentally ill, won the award for the best opinion article for the second consecutive year. His article - Ruling will Increase Suicide Temptation for the Mentally Ill - commented on the Supreme Court decision legalizing assisted suicide.

"There is an excellent use of the personal and the political," wrote the judge for this category. "The combination of a real experience with true facts makes a powerful connection for the reader."

The WCR also received two second place awards.

Reporter Ramon Gonzalez and editor Glen Argan were honoured in the category of in-depth treatment of a news event for their coverage of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'.

The judge said the WCR's extensive coverage of the encyclical gave readers "a full perspective of the meaning and import of Laudato Si'."

Argan also won second place for the layout and design of an entire issue.

The pages of the WCR are laid out with "sophistication and authority," the judge said. The paper has "great typesetting, overall architecture and flow throughout the issue."

Konguavi, Gonzalez, Argan and columnist Douglas Roche received third place awards for their contributions.

Konguavi's May 18 article, Youth Find Life in the Bible, surveyed the efforts of schools and parishes to help young Catholics learn more about the Bible.