CIMA honors excellence in storytelling at awards ceremony

Father Greg Boyle presides at the Catholic in Media Associates (CIMA) Mass June 1 in Pacific Palisades. — Credit: JPI STUDIOS

With seagulls flying above and the sound of the surf below, attendees at this year’s Catholic in Media Associates (CIMA) awards were greeted by a picture perfect Southern California backdrop for the group’s annual Mass, reception and ceremonies held in Pacific Palisades.

Now in its 22nd year, CIMA presented its yearly awards honoring excellence in media, with the feature film “The Monuments Men,” the feature documentary “Cesar’s Last Fast” and the television news program “CBS News Sunday Morning” receiving accolades for stories with uplifting messages that promote positive messages and themes.

Attendees from various branches of the entertainment industry gathered for an outdoor Eucharistic celebration with Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle, founder and director of Homeboy Industries, presiding and the “guitar choir” from American Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach providing the music.

During his homily, Father Boyle tied the message of the Gospel which described the Ascension of Christ to the day’s honorees. “The disciples were told that what matters is looking in each other’s eyes, [because] that is where Jesus is found,” said Father Boyle. “These honorees remind us of the connective tissue of the world and that we belong together.”

In addition to telling stories of gang members who have found peace and community through Homeboy Industries, Father Boyle also shared his experiences with Cesar Chavez. When he spoke to the farmer labor leader, “You felt like you were the only one who existed. He looked in your eyes and listened.”

Again, Father Boyle reiterated: “Why look up in the sky when we can look in each other’s eyes and dismantle any barricades that separate us?”

During the award ceremonies, Frank Tobin was lauded for his service to CIMA as a founding member of the board of directors in addition to being the group’s publicist since 1993. Tobin was presented his award by actress Melody Thomas Scott who was first introduced to Tobin when she was on the daytime serial “The Young and the Restless.”

Tobin admitted that when he was first approached to become involved with CIMA he “wasn’t comfortable with it. But I learned that it was right where I needed to be.” He told stories about his family (he was one of 17 children growing up in Chicago), as well as his life in the entertainment business, especially his days as actor Carroll O’Connor’s publicist. 

In a touching tribute, Tobin shared the intimate moments of O’Connor’s last days when he was at St. John’s Hospital. Coming in for a visit, Tobin met Nancy O’Connor (a Catholic convert) who tearfully held out a rosary and asked Tobin to teach her how to say it. 

“All my life prepared me for that moment,” he said. “It was the single most powerful experience in my life.”

Paul F. Chavez, president and chairman of Cesar Chavez Foundation, presented director/producer Richard Ray Perez whose documentary, “Cesar’s Last Fast,” took seven years to complete. Perez explained how Cesar’s story about his 36-day water only fast in protest of inhumane conditions for farm workers and their families was ultimately a story about the power of faith. “I realize that today you don’t find many faith-based movements that are fueling social justice issues,” he said.

“The Monuments Men” — produced, directed, co-written and starring George Clooney — was praised for its historical accuracy about a team of art historians, curators and museum directors who rescued some of the world’s greatest art from Nazi Germany. Attorney Donald S. Burris, a leading expert in art stolen by the Nazis, told those gathered that the practice of stealing art was about “destroying the culture” of the people.

“It was no accident that the Nazis sought out these pieces of art,” he said. “They were trying to erase all elements of culture from the countries they were occupying.”

Celebrating 35 years on the air, “CBS Sunday Morning” has been telling positive feature stories, first with Charles Kuralt and now with Charles Osgood at the helm. Its recent episode on Homeboy Industries was an example of stories that celebrate the nature of humanity, said Eleanore Vega, CBS News West Coast Bureau Chief, who accepted the CIMA award.

The television program offers a “change of pace from the unending stream of bleak and unhappy news,” she said. “Just like Father G knows: Love and hope can change lives.”


Voices

Spiritual, but not religious? Who to blame for declining church attendance

Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

It’s no secret that today there’s been a massive drop-off in church attendance. Moreover, that drop-off in church-going is not paralleled by the same widespread growth in atheism and agnosticism. Rather, more and more people are claiming to be spiritual but not religious, faith-filled but not churchgoers. Why this exodus from our churches?

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