Peter Finney Jr., executive editor and general manager of the Clarion Herald newspaper of the Archdiocese New Orleans, accepts the St. Francis de Sales Award from Rob DeFrancesco of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada June 21 a t the 2013 Catholic Media Conference in Denver. The award recognizing excellence in journalism is the highest honor given by the association. In remarks, Finney said he was humbled and honored and accepted the award on behalf of the staffs of the Clarion Herald and other Catholic newspapers in Louisiana and Mississippi. (CNS photo/Jeffrey Bruno)
Peter Finney Jr., executive editor and general manager of the Clarion Herald newspaper of the Archdiocese New Orleans, accepts the St. Francis de Sales Award from Rob DeFrancesco of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada June 21 a t the 2013 Catholic Media Conference in Denver. The award recognizing excellence in journalism is the highest honor given by the association. In remarks, Finney said he was humbled and honored and accepted the award on behalf of the staffs of the Clarion Herald and other Catholic newspapers in Louisiana and Mississippi. (CNS photo/Jeffrey Bruno)

DENVER (CNS) — Peter Finney Jr., executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese, received the St. Francis de Sales Award June 21 during the annual Catholic Media Conference in Denver.

The award, presented during a luncheon, recognizes excellence in journalism. It is the highest honor given by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, which co-sponsors the convention with the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals.

Finney was honored for his combination of “professionalism and strong faith” and his “clear, concise and unbiased reporting.”

This year’s other nominees were Nancy Phelan Wiechec, visual media manager for Catholic News Service, and Frank Maurovich, a former editor of the Latin America Press in Lima, Peru.

Wiechec began working at CNS as photo editor in 1994. As the news agency’s visual manager, she oversees its photo, graphics and video services. A winner of several CPA journalism awards over the years, she is a long-standing member of the press association and has served on the CPA’s national board as vice president and general publisher member. Wiechec also is a longtime member of National Press Photographers.

Wiechec was nominated for her advocacy of visual storytelling, dedication to visual media and for lifting “visual media to new levels.”

Maurovich was the first editor of The Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., which was established in 1963. He is a former editor of the Latin America Press in Lima, Peru, and retired editor of Maryknoll magazine.

In accepting the award, Finney said he was humbled and honored and accepted the award on behalf of the staffs of the Clarion Herald and other Catholic newspapers in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“I’m a recovering sports writer,” he joked, but added that serving with the Catholic press was his greatest blessing outside his family.

Finney recalled when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi eight years ago.

“In the midst of it all, God was visibly present,” he said.

He recalled publishing the Clarion Herald in the basement of the Baton Rouge, La., diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Commentator, for three months and said that, for 11 months, the paper did not have to charge parishes because of a generous grant from the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign.

He also spoke of the hunger for news and said parishioners were taking papers out of their hands as they were delivered to parishes.

“We were their lifeline,” he said.

Finney also told of a second collection taken at a parish in a very poor area of Los Angeles. The normal weekly collection was $5,000; the second collection for hurricane victims was $7,000.

However, collection counters also found an envelope with a note written in Spanish. The note indicated the woman had not brought money, but for the hurricane victims she donated her wedding ring.

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