St. Francis de Sales Award Finalists

We are pleased to present to you the Finalists for the 2023 St. Francis de Sales Award. Each Finalist is listed below with the support for their nomination. Please use the ballot link below to rank your first and second choices for this year's award winner. 

The finalist with the most first place votes is the winner. In the event of a tie, second place votes are used to determine the winner. The winner will be announced at the Catholic Media Conference, June 6-9, 2023, in Baltimore.

The St. Francis de Sales Award is the highest award the Catholic Media Association presents to an individual for his/her "outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism."

Nomination Criteria

The St. Francis de Sales Award shall be given to the person who, in the preceding year or during the years of his/her journalism career, while on the staff of or as a contributor to a publication that is a member of the Catholic Media Association, has performed the work of Catholic journalism either in general (for example, managing or editing a periodical) or in particular (for example, reporting) with such overall excellence or such originality or initiative, judged by that work's proper technical, intellectual, and practical-moral standards, as by his/her example to have contributed to raising the measure of performance of Catholic journalists, or to the development of new and more effective practices.

The previous five winners of the St. Francis de Sales Award voted from a selection of six nominees, resulting in these three candidates being brought forward to the membership for voting.



Patrick Downes
Hawaii Catholic Herald

As the Hawaii Catholic Herald's editor for the last 40 years, Patrick Downes firmly champions the newspaper's editorial integrity while making people feel heard.

Always professional, courteous and compassionate, Patrick is attuned to our readers and colleagues. His editorial staff often turn to him for the best way to respond diplomatically, compassionately and thoroughly while keeping the Herald’s mission in mind.

Besides his role as editor, Patrick is a top-notch writer and layout pro. Nicknamed “word man” by one of our diocesan colleagues, he is indeed a wizard with the written word having won many Catholic Press Awards over the decades. He can make a routine event come alive through rich detail and insight, write compelling in-depth stories using his many years of history and experience with the local Catholic church, and expertly turn out clever and concise headlines.

The Hawaii Catholic Herald has always been a small operation over the four decades Patrick has been editor and he uses his resources well. It’s a testament to his “great boss” abilities that two of the three other staffers in our office have remained at the Herald for just as long as he has. Patrick has true concern and support for his staff and has served as an excellent mentor.

Patrick also previously served on the CNS/CPA liaison committee for several years and took that work very seriously. He enjoyed contributing to the development of CNS as a partner publication.


Vito Formica
DeSales Media Group

We are writing to nominate Vito Formica for the St. Francis Catholic Media Award in recognition of his significant contributions to Catholic media. Mr. Formica serves as the Executive Director of News Content and Development for DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn. DeSales is the parent company of The Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn. 

Mr. Formica is a prominent figure in Catholic media, consistently demonstrating a deep commitment to the Catholic faith and a dedication to sharing its message. He produces and creates content that reaches countless Catholics in the Diocese of Brooklyn and around the world. He inspires audiences while staying true to the teachings of the Church.

He assembled multiple teams that consistently produce award-winning products — The Tablet newspaper, its Spanish-speaking companion, Nuestra Voz, and Currents News on NET-TV — that stay true to their journalistic mission. The newspaper has thrived and flourished and won numerous awards for its exemplary content.

Under his leadership we have brought The Tablet and our nightly newscast, Currents News, together to pack a one-two punch with our coverage. Stories in The Tablet are often accompanied by television coverage from Currents News. Implementing systems and practices to best achieve this is attributed to his vision.

Mr. Formica helped spearhead The Tablet’s membership drive — a groundbreaking idea that offers readers a chance to partner with our publication to provide financial support that allows us to continue our mission. This can serve as a model for other publications to continue their work, and is entirely Mr. Formica’s brainchild.

He consistently demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of journalism and ethical conduct, and showing a willingness to tackle difficult and controversial topics with integrity and sensitivity. He is a tireless advocate for social justice issues, using his platforms to raise awareness about important issues affecting Catholic communities around the world.

The Catholic media landscape is at a unique moment in time, and leaders like Mr. Formica should be recognized for their contributions to keeping the Catholic voice alive in the news.

Mr. Formica is an ideal recipient of the St. Francis Catholic Media Award. His work has a significant impact on the Catholic community, and he demonstrates the kind of dedication, passion, and skill that this award seeks to recognize.


Barb Fraze
Formerly of Catholic News Service

Barb Fraze has for more than 25 years been a premier journalist and editor providing international news to U.S. and global Catholic media outlets. She has traveled the world reporting on the church and society in Asia, Africa and Latin America. But it is her work as an editor that shines. She has managed reporting from every continent through her work with freelance reporters and establishing relationships with other news gathering agencies, especially in Canada and Asia.


Please use the ballot to rank your first and second choices for this year's award winner.