ACP Announces Winners of the 2023 "Excellence in Publishing Awards"

BALTIMORE, MD — The Association of Catholic Publishers (ACP) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Excellence in Publishing Awards. Publishers submitted a record number of titles in this year’s competition.

First, second, and third place honors were awarded to publishers and authors of the best Catholic content in the following categories—Biography, Children’s Books: Young Readers, Children’s Books: Picture Books, Children’s Books: Teens, General Interest, Inspirational, Music: Distinguished Catholic Composer, Music: Song of the Year, Prayer, Resources for Liturgy, Resources for Ministry, Scripture, Spanish, Spirituality, and Theology. Only first place was awarded for the Music: Distinguished Mass Setting category because of the limited number of entries.

The Resource of the Year Award will be determined by a separate panel of judges from among the 17 first place winners and announced later this summer.

There are three interesting notes about this year’s winners.

  • The Merchant’s Curse (Loyola Press) is the second title of the Harwood Mystery trilogy to win an award in the Teen category.
  • M. Roger Holland (GIA Publications) took first place in both the Distinguished Catholic Composer and Song of the Year categories. Tom Kendzia (OCP) took third and tied for second in the same 2 categories.
  • Blessed Virgin Mary is the subject of 7 winning titles in 6 different categories.

                The 50 award winners were produced by 15 different publishers with the 17 first place winners published by 10 different publishers. This year, the winning titles seem to represent a greater equity in quality. Eleven different publishers had 3-6 winning titles with OSV leading the way. In the past, 2 or 3 publishers have dominated the award winners’ list.

The winners by category are:


1. Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.'s Spiritual Sponsor (Dawn Eden Goldstein, Orbis Books)

2. Pedro Arrupe (Brian Grogan, SJ, Loyola Press)

3. Mother Teresa: The Saint and Her Nation (Gëzim Alpion, Bloomsbury)


Children's Books: Picture Books

1. The Curious Christmas Trail (Written by Haley Stewart, illustrated by Betsy Wallin; Pauline Books & Media)

2. Our Lady of Guadalupe and Her Dear Juanito (Written by Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP, illustrated by Amy Rodriguez; Pauline Books & Media)

3. (tied) Anyone But Bear (Written by Suzy Senior; illustrated by Dubravka Kolanovic; Ascension)

3. (tied) Louie's Lent (Written by Claudia Cangilla McAdam; illustrated by Michael Rogers; Ascension)


Children's Books: Teens

1. God's Superheroes: Amazing Catholic Men (Written by Mary Bajda, illustrated by Melinda Steffen; OSV)

2. God's Superheroes: Amazing Catholic Women Written by Mary Bajda, illustrated Melinda Steffen; OSV)

3. The Merchant's Curse (Antony Barone Kolenc, Loyola Press)


Children's Books: Young Readers

1. Light of the Saints (Cory Heimann, Word on Fire)

2. Seven Clues (Scott Hahn and Maura Roan McKeegan, Loyola Press)

3. The Real Presence (Written by Claudia Cangilla McAdam, illustrated by Gina Capaldi; Ascension)


General Interest

1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ascension Edition (Ascension)

2. A Garden Catechism: 100 Plants in Christian Tradition and How to Grow Them (Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB, illustrated by Mary Sprague; OSV)

3. The New Apologetics: Defending the Faith in a Post-Christian Era (Matthew Nelson, Word on Fire)



1. Madonnas of Color (Bro. Mickey McGrath, Clear Faith Publishing)

2. Dearest Sister Wendy . . . A Surprising Story of Faith and Friendship (Sister Wendy Beckett and Robert Ellsberg, Orbis Books)

3. Birthing the Holy: Wisdom from Mary to Nurture Creativity and Renewal (Christine Valters Paintner, Ave Maria Press)


Music: Distinguished Catholic Composer of the Year

1. M. Roger Holland II (GIA Publications, Inc.)

2. J. Michael Joncas (Liturgical Press)

3. Tom Kendzia (OCP)


Music: Distinguished Mass Setting

1. Mass of the Sun of Justice/Misa Sol de Justicia (Peter M. Kolar, GIA Publications, Inc.)


Music: Song of the Year

1. All of Me (Ode to Sr. Thea) (M. Roger Holland II, GIA Publications, Inc.)

2. (tied) Oh, Who Can Know the Mind of God (Music by Justin Wedgewood, text by Genevieve Glen, OSB; OCP)

2. (tied) There Is a Season (Tom Kendzia, OCP)



1. (tied) Forgive Everyone Everything (Gregory Boyle, SJ, Loyola Press)

1. (tied) God Loves the Autistic Mind: Prayer Guide for Those on the Spectrum and Those Who Love Us (Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC, Pauline Books & Media)

3. (tied) Come to Mary's House: Spending Time with Our Blessed Mother (Shawn Chapman, OSV)

3. (tied) The Holy Hour: Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration (Matthew Becklo, Word on Fire)


Resources for Liturgy

1. Gloriosi: Music of the Paschal Triduum/Música del Triduo Pascual (Tony Alonso, GIA Publications, Inc.)

2. Lectionary Psalms: The Abbey Psalms and Canticles (as found in Gather, Fourth Edition) (Various, GIA Publications, Inc.)

3. (tied) Catholic Women Preach: Raising Voices, Renewing the Church (Elizabeth Donnelly and Russ Petrus, editors, Orbis Books)

3. (tied) Preaching with Children (Ann M. Garrido, Liturgy Training Publications)


Resources for Ministry

1. Invitation and Encounter: Evangelizing Through the Sacraments (Timothy P. O'Malley, OSV)

2. Handbook for Ministers of Care, Third Edition (Marilyn Kofler, sp, Kevin E. O’Connor, csp, Liturgy Training Publications)

3. (tied) Engage Every Family: A Parish Guide to Integrated Faith Formation (Denise Utter, Twenty-Third Publications)

3. (tied) Rising: Learning from Women's Leadership in Catholic Ministries (Carolyn Y. Woo, Orbis Books)



1. Between Heaven and Earth: New Explorations of Great Biblical Texts (Gerhard Lohfink, Translated by Linda M. Maloney, Liturgical Press)

2. The Holy Spirit in the Bible (George M. Smiga with Little Rock Scripture Study Staff, Liturgical Press)

3. Threshold Bible Study: Music, Hymns and Canticles (Stephen J. Binz, Twenty-Third Publications)



1. Mi visitante diaro, Eucaristia (Fr. Patrick Mary Briscoe, OP, OSV)

2. Manual para ministros de la pastoral de enfermos (Marilyn Kofler, sp, Kevin E. O'Connor, csp, Liturgy Training Publications)

3. María: Caminata por la Biblia con la Santísima Madre (Edward Sri, Ascension)



1. Braving the Thin Places (Julianne Stanz, Loyola Press)

2. Love Him Ever More: A 9-Day Personal Retreat with the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ, Ave Maria Press)

3. Fat Luther, Slim Pickin’s: A Black Catholic Celebration of Faith, Tradition, and Diversity (Marcia Lane-McGee, Shannon Wimp Schmidt, Ave Maria Press)



1. A History of Catholic Theological Ethics (James F. Keenan, SJ, Paulist Press)

2. Dust in the Blood: A Theology of Life with Depression (Jessica Coblentz, Liturgical Press)

3. Our Faithful Departed: Where They Are and Why It Matters (Leonard J. DeLorenzo, Ave Maria Press)


Each category was judged by a three-person panel, which reviewed and evaluated the entries. A brief explanation of each category can be found at

The Association of Catholic Publishers (ACP) is a membership organization of Catholic publishers, those who provide services to Catholic publishers, and individuals who work with Catholic publishers. The ACP provides opportunities for members to further the Catholic publishing industry, promote Catholic publishing and reading, and engage those they interact with, including retailers, pastoral leaders, individual customers, and staff.