Best of 2020 (Yes, there was some good too!)

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 tells us that to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven. Many struggled to find purpose in all that happened in 2020, and, as The Byrds famously added to the Scripture, most of us are ready to turn, turn, turn the page to the next calendar year.

However, before the dawn breaks on 2021, the communications team of the Diocese of Raleigh reflected on some of the bright points of 2020. From pre-COVID assignments to stories of strength through strife, here are our favorites:

John Dornan, Director of Communications

No school, virtual school, school-related COVID restrictions and protocols … 2020 was a particularly challenging year for educators and parents alike. But in the midst of all of that, our schools were also a source of much good news, including a “homework assignment” from the Bishop that would be a learning experience for him as much as the students and the announcement that we can look forward to the opening of a new Catholic school in 2021, Cristo Rey RTP.

 Anjanette Wiley, Assistant Director of Communications

My favorite story was, “Remembered, by name.” In the midst of the chaos, Larry McDaniel did something so powerful for people he would never meet. He saw the original anonymity of the gravestone and said, ‘that wasn’t good enough for me.’ That really struck me. When we went to Washington for the story, he stooped to hand clean the grave marker before we did the video. It was a moment of selflessness and faith that I’ll always remember.

Kate Turgeon Watson, Editor, NC Catholics

The Duke Catholic Center assignment was memorable, in part, because it was the last story we covered before the pandemic changed everyday life. I remember heading out to Duke (in my UNC sneakers) and feeling the pre-game excitement that always exists ahead of the Battle of the Blues. Because I enjoy basketball and traditions, it was neat to hear the student talk about the ticketing process at Duke and how he and his tentmates divvy up manning the tent and going to Mass. 

Michelle King, Web Manager

I also chose a story related to our schools. Within weeks of the shocking news that schools would not be able to operate in person, our Catholic schools were not only running but were thriving. This story about how our schools met the challenges of the pandemic showed the determination and resilience of our teachers and students.

Mark Hite, Media Production Specialist

My favorite news story of the year is, “Share the good brews.” Drinking beer seems to go hand in hand with fellowship. In fellowship, we have a chance to share our faith, our troubles and our triumphs with family, friends and strangers alike. We have a chance to listen to others. This fellowship bonds us together in our struggle to understand our own journey to holiness. At this event, Bishop Luis Rafael joined 65 young adults who came together in fellowship and discussed their faith.

Leonor Clavijo, Communications Specialist

One of my favorite stories of the year is, “Filipinos celebrate their faith in Santo Nino festival season.” It shares the story of an important and beautiful cultural celebration. I believe this was one of the last big gatherings of the Filipino community before the quarantine. Gathering in prayer is so important to the Filipino community, and I hope that celebrations like this one can resume in 2021.

Mandy Howard, Writer

It was easy to get discouraged this year. Fear, anger and confusion seemed to be emotions that ruled the day. When I had the opportunity to talk with groups of people about their faithful and hope-filled devotion to the rosary, it was like a soothing balm. For selfish reasons, “Beads of Hope” is my favorite story of the year. In a time when my own prayer life was less than glowing, I gleaned so much inspiration from the women and men of all ages who leaned into prayer.

Team Favorite

The story of the year for our team, that caught the imagination of our entire department, revolved around a chance phone call from Howard Shulman to Anjanette Wiley. “When Shulman Showed Up,” tells the story of Shulman’s visit and the treasures he freely donated.

Of the story, Kate says, “Having the opportunity to meet and write about Howard Shulman, then 92, and learn about his family’s connection to the installation of Pope Pius XII was fascinating. It was part love story (of Howard and Barbara), part selfless gift (of “pictorial records”) and part giant surprise. After all, he just showed up.”

John adds, “Airing on the eve of the COVID pandemic and North Carolina shutdown in March, this was a unique firsthand look into Papal history and a reminder of the unique power of newfound friends, sharing and storytelling – things that would be sorely lacking for the remainder of the year.”