National Catholic press award to Post’s Jennifer Willems

Touching, “well-written” and “uplifting” were among the adjectives judges used to describe a story by Catholic Post assistant editor Jennifer Willems that earned second place honors for Best News Writing (Local/Regional) from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

In the story, headlined “Family is received into the church at 8-year-old’s funeral” and published April 4, 2009, Willems described the faith journey of the Hinojosa family of Lomax. Plutarco “Pete” and Christa Hinojosa Jr. and their daughter, Olivia, were received into the Catholic Church at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Nauvoo at the funeral Mass for their 8-year-old daughter and sister, Alicia, who despite multiple medical difficulties since birth had touched many hearts.

The recognition was among the newspaper, magazine, and book awards announced at the closing banquet of the Catholic Media Convocation last Friday in New Orleans, La. Judging was among newspapers in The Catholic Post’s circulation category.

But “uplifiting” could also describe what Willems and nearly three dozen Catholic press colleagues accomplished the following day as they volunteered to help repair homes still needing work after Hurricane Katrina. For Willems, it was her third such stint — she twice accompanied Catholic Charities teams to the New Orleans area and reported on their efforts as well as pitching in herself.

A high point of the convocation in New Orleans was a televised greeting from Pope Benedict XVI. In challenging the Catholic journalists, the pope said: “If your mission is to be truly effective — if the words you proclaim are to touch hearts, engage people’s freedom and change their lives — you must draw them into an encounter with persons and communities who witness to the grace of Christ by their faith and their lives.”

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