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Florida Catholic’s Ana Rodriguez-Soto wins 2024 St. Francis de Sales Award

Ana Rodriguez-Soto, recently retired editor of the Florida Catholic, Miami edition, speaks after she was presented with the 2024 St. Francis de Sales Award during the Catholic Media Conference in Atlanta June 21. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

ATLANTA (OSV News) — Ana Rodriguez-Soto, who recently retired as editor of the Florida Catholic, Miami edition, is the recipient of the 2024 St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Media Association.

The award is named after the patron saint of writers and journalists. It recognizes “outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism” and is the highest honor given by the CMA to someone who “has performed with excellence and contributed to raising the professional standards of Catholic journalism.”

The announcement was made June 21 during the annual Catholic Media Conference held this year in Atlanta June 18-21. Rodriguez-Soto was one of three finalists for this year’s St. Francis de Sales Award.

The other two finalists were Tom Dermody, who had been with The Catholic Post in Peoria for 43 years, 32 of those as editor of the newspaper until he retired in 2022; and Joseph Sinasac, retired publishing director for Novalis, the largest bilingual religious publisher in Canada, who has spent five decades in Catholic communications and is the former publisher and editor of The Catholic Register in Toronto.

In accepting the award, Rodriguez-Soto highlighted the unity and collaboration of all Catholic Media Association members and said that the award was also for her colleagues in Miami and Florida, many of whom had come to this year’s conference.

The Florida Catholic serves the Archdiocese of Miami and the Florida dioceses of Orlando, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Palm Beach, Venice and Pensacola-Tallahassee.

After joking that the statue of St. Francis DeSales award she received — often nicknamed “the Franny” — was heavy, Rodriguez-Soto said she felt “incredibly honored and thrilled to have received this award.”

“I don’t really feel I deserve it,” she said, adding that she wished to have gotten involved with the CMA sooner but that being part of the board was a wonderful experience. “I really believe in this association. I believe in our union. I believe in our professionalism. I believe in our idealism, and I believe in how much we help each other.”

Throughout her 40 years as a Catholic journalist, Rodriguez-Soto has received many Catholic press awards for excellence, and served the CMA as a board member, while bringing Catholic news to the Archdiocese of Miami through her coverage. She had been described by her colleagues as “humble and joyful” as well as an inspiration.

She also called the CMA conferences fantastic experiences that make people — oftentimes busy meeting deadlines with very little staff and sometimes little support — feel less like “lone rangers” because of the association’s collegiality and professionalism. “So whatever you do, stay with it,” she said. “We learn so much from each other.”

Rodriguez-Soto, who began her career in the summer of 1979, a year before her college graduation, serving as an intern at La Voz Católica, the Archdiocese of Miami’s Spanish-language newspaper, said that she had been blessed to be able to do something meaningful as a member of the Catholic press.

“I’m just so grateful that I was able to have a job that wasn’t a job, that was really kind of the love of my life — family aside,” she said. “It meant something. It’s not just a job. It was more than that.”

On June 20, the CMA also presented its 2024 Cardinal John P. Foley Award to Matt Riedl, a multimedia journalist for the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan.

The award is named after Cardinal Foley (1935-2011), who is regarded as the patriarch of the American Catholic press. This award recognizes demonstrated excellence and innovation in Catholic storytelling in the preceding year, with work presented on various media platforms. These platforms include video, podcasts, photo spreads, blogs or a multimedia melding of platforms. It is one of the highest honors given by the CMA.

On June 15, Riedl won a regional Emmy Award for his work in creating the diocese’s 2023 vocations film “Portraits of the Call,” a portion of which was shown to the CMC attendees.

When accepting the Foley award, Riedl talked about the 20-minute-long vocation video, which showcases different vocations in Catholic life — including married life, consecrated religious life and the priesthood — and features interviews with four people from the Diocese of Lansing who are living out their vocation in different ways.

What he found most meaningful about making the film, Riedl said, was to see how the young people in the diocese reacted to it. He shared how his diocesan vocation director told him about a guy who had been discerning whether to enter the seminary and an Instagram cut of the vocation video inspired him to say yes to discerning a call to the priesthood.

“It’s just amazing the impact that our work can have on people, you know, it’s inspiring them to open their hearts to God’s will for their lives,” Riedl said. “I mean, what greater profession could we have as Catholic communicators than helping people discover the Lord’s will in their life? And it’s through telling stories, it’s through sharing the human experience that we’re able to accomplish this.”

He also talked about being blessed to work with talented collaborators.

“You know, it wouldn’t be possible without everyone,” he told his fellow Catholic communications professionals. “You all inspire me every day, looking at all your feeds and seeing what you’re all doing. And it’s really such an honor.”

Maria-Pia Negro Chin is Spanish editor for OSV News. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MariaPiaChin.

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