The Merry Beggars win Two National Media Awards

The Merry Beggars win Two National Media Awards

The Merry Beggars was honored to receive two prestigious Gabriel Awards, given by the Catholic Media Association in recognition of “outstanding artistic achievement in a television or radio program or series that entertains and enriches with a true vision of humanity and true vision of life.”

The Catholic Media Association welcomed media organizations from around the country to their annual Gabriel Awards reception in Atlanta, Georgia, recognizing the best media contributions from the past year.

Judy Zocchi receiving The Merry Beggars’ award for Best Podcast.

While The Merry Beggars had been nominated, they were not assuming they would win. Peter Atkinson, Founder and Executive Producer, said, “For years, we’ve only ever been focused on improving our next production, constantly asking, ‘How can we improve our next series? How can we get better?’ I don’t think we ever thought of receiving awards. This all has been a wonderful surprise!”

And The Merry Beggars did win, in two categories. They were honored to receive the award for Best Podcast for The Saints: Adventures of Faith and Courage as well as Best Podcast Series for Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The Merry Beggars’ leadership team (left to right): Judy Zocchi, Kevin Collins, Peter Atkinson, Joseph Marsh, and Kevin Conroy.

The Gabriel Awards

The Gabriel Awards have a storied history. They were created in 1965 with the mission to recognize “outstanding artistic achievement.” They stand as Catholic media and entertainment’s premier awards.

The Gabriel Awards reception this past Thursday was a thrilling event that brought together some of the biggest names in media. Representatives from PBS, CBS, CBC, EWTN, Hallow, Word on Fire, and many secular and religious networks were there.

Judy Zocchi, The Merry Beggars’ Head of Script Development, traveled to Atlanta to be present for the awards. “I feel so privileged to have been the one to accept our statues at the Gabriel awards last night. The event was lovely and the room was filled with talented people of faith who genuinely celebrated each other.” Under Judy’s leadership, The Merry Beggars writing team has produced over 150 episodes of The Saints, with over 2,000 pages of scripts in development.

Catholic Media Association’s reception.

The Saints: Adventures of Faith and Courage brought home the Gabriel Award for Best Podcast, a significant achievement for the less-than-year-old podcast. “I’m so grateful for the association’s recognition of our work. I hope these awards are an encouragement to the hundreds of artists and thousands of donors who make our work possible. Your support is making a difference in our culture and is impacting hundreds of thousands of families,” Peter Atkinson said. “Without our donor’s belief in our mission and their partnership to make it happen, we would not be able to offer these stories to families around the world for free.”

The Merry Beggars also brought home a second Gabriel Award honoring Elizabeth Ann Seton for Best Podcast Series. This series, the twelfth series in the show, meets Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in her first days in the upper crust of New York Society on the heels of the revolutionary war. It follows her through the tragic twists and turns of her life until she reaches Mount St. Mary’s Emmitsburg, Maryland. The series was directed by Demetrios Troy, written by Kiley Hatch with script development from Judy Zocchi, Lisa Lickona, and Buzz McLaughlin, cast by Kevin Collins and Ariel Gade, and sound designed by Kevin Conroy.

Judy Zocchi receiving The Merry Beggars’ second award of the night, Best Podcast Series.

Just the Beginning

It has been an incredible year for The Merry Beggars. Since September 2023, they have released a new weekday show, produced over 150 episodes with hundreds more in production, and recruited a team of hundreds of artists serving hundreds of thousands of families across the country. They also held their first-ever one-day-pledge-drive, asking their audience to join them in healing our culture. Over 3,500 people donated, partnering with The Merry Beggars in their mission.

For Peter Atkinson, though, this is just the beginning. “All the encouragement that God has sent our way this year reinforces two things for me. First, that we are on the right mission. The Holy Spirit has inspired an incredible group of supporters and artists to join this mission. In a few years, we’ve gone from a vision I developed while working as a janitor to a national media brand. That’s God’s hand at work. Second, that this is the starting line, not the finish line. The pledge drive, our audience’s enthusiasm, these awards – they show that people are hungering for stories of hope in today’s culture.”

Buzz McLaughlin, The Merry Beggars’ Script Consultant, has been amazed at the growth over the past few years. “Peter and I have worked closely together pretty much from the start,” Buzz says. “It’s been exciting to see the amazing creative energy that has gone into the growth of The Merry Beggars. When we started The Saints project, it just took it to the next level.” From one main writer Kiley Hatch on On the Night Trainto a team of writers under Judy Zocchi’s leadership – and from two sound designers on A Christmas Carolto a team of over 8 sound designers working on The Saints under the direction of Kevin Conroy, Audio Director – a team of incredible talent has quickly joined The Merry Beggars’ team.

But for The Merry Beggars team, all the past year’s accomplishments are but prologue to a greater adventure that lies in store. “Our work over the last year has laid a solid foundation for future growth,” says The Merry Beggars Writer, Director, and Casting Director Kevin Collins. Atkinson adds, “All of this momentum has begun to unlock some really exciting opportunities for The Merry Beggars.”

But he can’t share the details about these opportunities just yet.  “I can’t say more right now,” Atkinson says, “But I can guarantee that our audience will be excited by what’s in store. Stay tuned in the next few months!”

Kevin Collins directing The Saints: Isaac Jogues in 2023.

Focused on the Craft

With a team including Oscar-nominated directors, award-winning writers and sound designers, hundreds of actors from productions like The Chosen, and now two national media awards, the future looks bright for The Merry Beggars and The Saints. But their team doesn’t let themselves think too far in the future.

Asked about the awards, Atkinson says, “Since the beginning, our focus has only ever been on ‘How do we tell stories that are beautiful? That move the heart?’ And I think we’ve grown because we obsess about the details. ‘Is the sound of curtain flapping in the wind, correct? Do the footsteps sound right for the character? Is this dialogue working?’ So for us, we’ll continue doing the best work we can, crafting the next episode, and surrendering the rest to God’s Providence. He’s the best storyteller, after all!”

Peter Atkinson directing in studio.

You can listen to the latest episode of the award-winning podcast series The Saints at

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.