The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, in Australia's state of New South Wales, is rejoicing over having won multiple media honors from the country's Catholic and religious journalism associations. It's official monthly magazine, Aurora, was given the 2014 Gutenberg Award on Sept. 6. “Aurora attracted three awards at the Australasian Catholic Press Association dinner held last Thursday, followed by another four awards at the Australasian Religious Press Association lunch on Sunday,” Irene Sutherland, acting communications director of the Australian bishops' conference, told CNA Sept. 10. “The climax of the award ceremony was receiving the 2014 Gutenberg Award,”?she recounted. The Gutenberg Award "recognizes the outstanding contribution of an individual or organization in the field of Christian publishing, or the longstanding exceptional impact of a Christian publication,” and is the premier prize bestowed by the Australasian Religious Press Association. Bishop William Wright of Maitland-Newcastle congratulated Aurora's team and subscribers, saying, “the awards were a testament to the hard work of all across the diocese who contribute to Aurora.” “Aurora is something we all value as an opportunity to share stories of the many good things that people are involved in around the diocese and other matters that are important to our community,” he added. Tracey Edstein, the publication's editor, noted that its mission is “to tell the stories of the people in our local community, offer a Catholic perspective, encourage reflection and invite all to participate in the local Church.” Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne said that Aurora “sets a fine example of how other dioceses might reach out to communicate and build relationships with the secular community.” “They’ve been able to communicate the Church’s good news stories, as well as provide honest coverage of the difficult issues they’ve faced in regard to clerical child sexual abuse,” he said. "Since commencing distribution of Aurora through secular newspapers in 2011, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has been able to reach a broader audience beyond our Catholic community.” In addition to being published online, Aurora is distributed in as an insert in six local, mainstream papers, including The Newcastle Herald and The Maitland Mercury. It has a circulation of 70,000. Peter Bentley, the Australasian Religious Press Association president, said Aurora had thereby connected “not only with its wider Catholic constituency, but also to connect with members of other denominations and the general public … at a time when the Catholic Church and this particular diocese, have faced substantial and ongoing scrutiny and inquiry.” “Under the direction of its editor, Tracey Edstein, the magazine has not stepped away from controversial and difficult matters, instead addressing them in a straight forward and open manner, especially with the help of its bishop. I believe this strategic move has also enabled the church to connect in a wider way.” He added that “the style and range of material is also of interest to that broad range of people who are looking for advice, comment, and reflection, and perhaps end up being surprised to find this in a religious publication. Aurora has in a way entered into a gentle conversation with people outside the church, encouraging them to consider again faith and the church today.” Other ARPA awards won by Aurora included a bronze prize for best theological article, silver for best faith reflection, and gold for best regional publication. From the Australasian Catholic Press Association, Aurora was awarded for best layout and design, best print magazine, and overall excellence in a Catholic publication. The ACPA citation acknowledged Aurora for its “readily accessible stories,” a “consistent and edifying story of faith and life entwined,” and the “authentic message that brings truth and honesty to a difficult history, and yet is still able to rejoice in the positives.”
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