Robert DeFrancesco, associate publisher of The Catholic Sun and director of Communications for the Diocese of Phoenix, is pictured during the 2019 St. Francis de Sales Award presentation at the Catholic Media Conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., June 21. DeFrancesco was the runner up for the St. Francis de Sales Award. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Office of Communications earned several accolades for its work during the Catholic Media Conference, hosted by the Catholic Press Association June 18-21 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Rob DeFrancesco, diocesan director of communications and associate publisher for The Catholic Sun, was named runner up for the St. Francis de Sales Award recognizing “outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism.”

Mick Welsh, graphic designer, earned first place for “Best Use of Graphics” in his “Victory in Christ” cover page illustration for Easter content in the March 2018 issue. Judges described the artwork as a “beautiful, bold illustration that nicely accompanies and enhances the article.”

Victory in Christ (Mick Welsh, Graphic Artist/CATHOLIC SUN)

The Sun team garnered an honorable mention for its “Explanation of Marriage” package, which included Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s column “The Family: The first school of discipleship,” coverage of Cardinal Francis Arinze’s visit to the Diocese of Phoenix by editor Tony Gutiérrez and photos by Jesus Valencia and for the collaborative effort “Experts weigh in on the accuracy of Paul VI’s predictions,” by Gutiérrez and correspondents Lisa Dahm and Joyce Coronel, with graphic design by Welsh and Gutiérrez. Gutiérrez also received an honorable mention for “Best News Writing on a Local or Regional Event” for “Broken icons strengthen faith ahead of Christmas,” which reported on vandalism at St. Mary’s Basilica.

For the first time, the Sun’s “El Sol Católico” Spanish section was recognized with two awards. Second place for “Best Reporting on Cultural Heritage” went to correspondent Leo Hernández for his coverage of St. Sharbel’s relics visiting Phoenix, coupled with Gutiérrez’ photos and design.

“The historical context provided by the authors was especially enjoyable,” judges wrote.

The section also placed third for “Best Coverage of Pro-Life Issues” for Hernández’s coverage of the Arizona March and Rally for Life, with photos by Jesús Valencia and design by Gutiérrez.

“The coverage of the march comes to life in a powerful way through the quotes of those who attended,” judges wrote.

The diocese also received three awards for other communications initiatives. Bishop Olmsted received second place for “Best Diocesan Pastoral Message” for the “Fidelity” video addressing the recent clerical sex abuse scandals.

Judges described the video as a “powerful message to the community. The bishop was particularly effective in speaking directly to the congregation, not at them. The bishop’s tone was conversational, and his message of unity was clear and consistent. The bishop delivered an inspiring message of confidence and care, a difficult balance.”

The Catholic Conversation” hosted by Steve and Becky Greene and “I Got Issues” hosted by Danielle Burr and Miranda Maciel both earned honorable mentions as “Best Podcast.”