Communications staff

Smiling eyes tell the tale of those celebrating the six Niagara Awards
honoring public relations practices earned by diocesan staff from the
Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the Public Relations Society of
America on Nov. 18. Seated, left to right: Sheila Dwyer Grove, Mary
Solberg, Elizabeth Butterfield and Rich Papalia; standing, left to right:
Brenda Williams, Kate Wilson, Anne-Marie Welsh, Jesse Spanogle,
Deacon Steve Washek, Mary Hickin and Jessie Hubert. Grove,
Solberg, Butterfield, Papalia, Williams and Welsh represent the
Communications Office, while Wilson, Washek, Hickin and Hubert
represent the Faith Formation Office. Spanogle, of St. Jude Parish,
Erie, served on the committee that created the Re-membering Our
Sunday Story
initiative. Missing from photo: Vince Dragone of

Vincent Dragone Media and Jillian Zaczyk of the Faith Formation
Office.             Photo/Sheila Krahe

ERIE — As the 2021 award season comes to an end, the Northwest Pa. Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has recognized both the Communications and Faith Formation offices of the Diocese of Erie for their public relations practices. Diocesan staff members received six Niagara Awards at the Nov. 18 celebration held at the Brewerie at Union Station, Erie.  
          “I’m especially pleased that so many people were involved with these projects on numerous levels,” says Anne-Marie Welsh, director of the Communications Office. “It reflects the fact that we draw inspiration from each other, that we are committed to collaboration and that we enjoy what we do.” She also noted the purpose of the work — connecting people with Christ and their Catholic faith — is central to their success.
          Gold Niagaras were awarded to both Faith magazine — sent to all registered households in the diocese on a bi-monthly basis — and to the Diocese of EriE-news, a weekly digital publication available free of charge to those who subscribe. Mary Solberg and Sheila Dwyer Grove serve as editors, respectively. Solberg also received a gold for her feature story, Priests in Pandemic, which already had earned a first place from the Catholic Press Association as well as a Golden Quill from the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Press Club.
          “I can’t think of anything else that earned the trifecta in the 17 years I’ve been working for the diocese,” Welsh said. “It was an important story that was well told. What we really celebrate is that so many readers entrusted to our care have enjoyed that inspiring piece.”
          The diocese also received gold for its overall communications work related to COVID-19, a wide-ranging effort including everything from news releases and publications to social media outreach and collaboration with the Catholic Schools Office, the Faith Formation Office and parishes across northwest Pennsylvania.
          Silver Niagaras were given for two initiatives shared with the Faith Formation Office. First was the Simply Celebrating microsite offering resources to help people celebrate Advent and Christmas at home in meaningful ways. The site has been updated and relaunched for 2021. Also honored were the videos created as part of the Re-membering Our Sunday Story initiative designed to encourage people to transition back into attending Mass in person. Vince Dragone, of Vincent Dragone Media, volunteered his efforts as director and producer for these engaging testimonials.   
          “The Niagaras are always nice because we get to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our regional peers in communications,” Welsh said in an email announcing the results to staff members. “Awards went to WJET, the Erie Times-News, Edinboro University, Erie Insurance, Red Letter Hospitality, WQLN, the Erie Seawolves and more. I'm grateful for the credibility they give to the diocese.”
          In addressing staff members, Welsh expressed her gratitude to them for using their God-given talents to build up the hearts and bring nourishment to the people of northwest Pa. and beyond.