It’s CPA awards season!

Each year, at the annual Catholic Press Association conference, the CPA issues awards to Catholic newspapers all over the country for their steadfast devotion to reporting on all matters related to the Catholic Church. We don’t like to brag, but we’re very proud of the work we’ve put in here at the Denver Catholic over the past year, and it’s nice to be recognized for it. This year, we won several awards from the CPA, including a few in first place. We thank you, our dear readers, for all your support and for helping us to be the best diocesan newspaper we can be. Below is a list of everything we and our sister publication El Pueblo Catolico (now known as Denver Catholic en Espanol)won this year.

Best feature photograph, first place: “Cathedral ordination” by Andrew Wright

Best general news photograph first place: “Bishops” by Andrew Wright

Best reporting on the celebration of a sacrament, first place: “Be Simple. Be One” by Melissa Keating

Best online presentation of multimedia visuals, first place: “Little Woman, Giant Spirit” by Aaron Lambert, Andrew Wright and James Baca

Best redesign, first place

Best coverage of Mother Teresa’s canonization, first place

Best election coverage by a diocesan newspaper, third place: “Voting in Good Faith” by Aaron Lambert, Andrew Wright

Honorable mentions:

Best front page: Denver Catholic, “Little Woman, Giant Spirit” by Karna Swanson, Andrew Wright, Aaron Lambert, Filippo Piccone and James Baca

Best reporting on special age group: Denver Catholic, “Millennial Catholics: Here to Stay” by Melissa Keating

Newspaper of the year, non-weekly diocesan: Denver Catholic by Karna Swanson, Andrew Wright, Michael O’ Neill, Aaron Lambert and Filippo Piccone

El Pueblo awards:

Best sports reporting, third place: “Altetas olímpicos que manifestaron su fe cristiana” by Clemente Carballo

Best treatment of vocations to priesthood, religious life, or diaconate, third place: “Un sacerdote es lo que es por Jesucristo” by Carmen Elena Villa

Best reporting on family, second place: “Consejos del Papa a las mamás” by Carmen Elena Villa

Best coverage of the Year of Mercy, third place: “Lo que Dios ha unido, ningún hombre lo separe” by Carmen Elena Villa / Mavi Barraza

Best coverage of Papal visit to Mexico, second place: “Cruzarán la frontera para ver al Papa” by Carmen Elena Villa

Best coverage of World Youth Day. Second place: “Cien mil millas en busca del plan de Dios” by Monseñor Samuel Aquila, arzobispo de Denver /Lara Montoya / Carmen Elena Villa

COMING UP: Carmelite lived the cloistered life ‘to the full’

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In 1950, at the ripe age of 18, Sister Mona Claire of Our Lady entered religious life as a Carmelite of the Holy Spirit. For the next 67 years, she went on to live a cloistered life away from the world in deep prayer.

It would seem it was no coincidence, then, that she passed away on May 20 — the feast of Pentecost.

“For her to die on the feast of Pentecost — it’s our biggest solemnity next to Christmas because we’re the Carmel of the Holy Spirit,” said Mother Mary of Jesus, prioress of the discalced Carmelite nuns of Littleton. “Our blessed Lord really favored her, I think.”

Over 20 of Sister Mona’s 67 years as a Carmelite were spent as a secretary answering phone calls and responding to requests for prayers and Mass offerings. Sister Mona was also a talented seamstress and spent much of her time making clothes for the Sisters and altar linens.

Sister Mona’s most unique job was perhaps taking care of sheep, which the monastery had up until the 1980s, and her most beautiful work was likely her profound prayer life.

“She always prayed,” said Mother Mary. “Even in her last few days, if she said anything, it was a prayer.”

Mother Mary recalled that the doctor who attended to Sister Mona at the hospital after she experienced a fall shortly before she passed asked her to open her eyes, and she was unable to follow his commands.

“But I would say a prayer, and she’d finish it for me,” said Mother Mary. “I would say, ‘Praise be Jesus Christ,’ and she would say, ‘Now and forever.’ I think her last words were ‘Now and forever.’”

Mother Mary admired Sister Mona for her patience and efforts to please God, as well as her positive attitude in all circumstances.

“I noticed that even in the pain she was in when she was dying, she never moaned or anything,” said Mother Mary. “She never complained one little bit.”

Mother Mary believes it was a blessing that Sister Mona was able to remain so close to God even during her final days — a grace that likely stemmed from the consistent efforts she made to be close to him throughout her life.

“If you’re constantly corresponding with grace and praying, it’s going to come to you in those last moments,” said Mother Mary. “It will strengthen you for the journey. I think that’s what happened.”

Mother Mary witnessed graces showering down during on Sister Mona even during her funeral, particularly when Bishop Jorge Rodriguez blessed her coffin before it was lowered into the ground.

“There were turtle doves. You could hear turtle doves cooing,” not back and forth, but in unison, Mother Mary said. It reminded those in attendance of Song of Solomon 2, which mentions the voice of a turtledove in a chapter about the love of a bride groom.

The beauty of the moment didn’t go unnoticed, much like Sister Mona’s life of service.

“She was the loving and praying heart of the Church and the Carmel [community] here for almost 68 years,” said Mother Mary. “Everything she did was for souls and for our dear Lord’s greater glory and honor,” she said.

Mother Mary believes Sister Mona had a profound impact on the world, even though she had little contact with it.

“Having been in the convent as long as she was, she really impacted the diocese and the world with her ever-flowing prayers,” said Mother Mary. “It’s just the nature of cloistered life — and she lived it to the full.”