TORONTO, ON May 24, 2012 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is pleased to announce that it has chosen Canadian artist and author Michael O’Brien as winner of this year’s Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life. The award will be presented at the League’s annual dinner in Toronto June 7, which will feature a keynote address by Robert Ventresca, chair of the history department at Kings University College, London and author of a new biography about Pius XII.

“Through his ability to engage strong Catholic themes in his writings and the unique religious imagery in his paintings, Michael has given a powerful witness in the world of art and literature, and his work has given spiritual enrichment to countless individuals,” said League President Philip Horgan. “It’s an honour to recognize Michael’s work and give our supporters the opportunity to meet him.”

**To request dinner tickets, please e-mail or call 416-466-8244**

Mr. O’Brien, whose most recent book Father at Night (Justin Press, 2011) is a collection of personal stories and reflections on the vocation of fatherhood, maintains a busy practice from his studio in the Combermere, Ontario area. “I have always been impressed with the work of CCRL in upholding Church teaching in the public forum,” said Mr. O’Brien. “I am greatly honoured to receive this award from them.”

About Michael O’Brien

Mr. O’Brien, born in Ottawa in 1948, is internationally renowned as the author of the novel Father Elijah: An Apocalypse. His eight subsequent novels have also been best-sellers in the Catholic world and have been translated into 10 languages.

He is also the author of non-fiction, notably his examinations of the contemporary pagan influence on children’s books and films. These titles include A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for your Child’s Mind and Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture. Other books include his collection of essays on sociopolitical issues, Remembrance of the Future; a children’s book, The Small Angel; a book of his paintings and meditations, The Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary; the paintings for John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, and The Family and the New Totalitarianism, a collection of his essays on the crisis of the family in a modern age. His work has been widely reviewed in both secular and religious media in North America and Europe.

His articles and essays have appeared in international journals such as Communio, Catholic World Report, Catholic Dossier, Inside the Vatican, The Chesterton Review and others. For seven years he was the editor of the Catholic family magazine Nazareth Journal.

As a professional artist Mr. O’Brien has had numerous exhibits across North America. Since 1976 he has painted religious imagery exclusively, ranging from liturgical commissions to visual reflections on the meaning of the human person. His paintings hang in churches, monasteries, universities, community collections and private collections in the U.S.A., Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Australia and Africa.

Mr. O’Brien and his wife Sheila have six children and five grandchildren. His work can be viewed at his website,

About the Archbishop Exner Award

The League established the Archbishop Exner Award in 2004 to honour Archbishop Adam Exner, OMI, Archbishop Emeritus of Vancouver, upon his retirement and to recognize outstanding lay achievement in advocacy, education, life issues, media and culture and philanthropy. Previous recipients include:

* Michael Coren, author and broadcaster, for his outspoken defense of Catholicism in media (2011)
* Suzanne LaVallee of  Quebec for leadership in education (2010)
 * Frank Chauvin of Windsor, Ontario, founder of Haiti’s first orphanage for girls and initiator of an application for review of the process by which Henry Morgentaler was awarded the Order of Canada (2009)
* Dr. and Mrs. Andrew and Joan Simone of Toronto, co-founders of Canadian Food for Children, for services to philanthropy and international aid (2008)
*Campaign Life Coalition President Jim Hughes of Toronto for service to the pro-life movement (2007)
* J. Fraser Field of Vancouver, founder of Catholic Educators’ Resource Centre, for service to education (2006; awarded in 2007)
* The late Regina business leader Frederick W. Hill for philanthropy and community service (2005).

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244;