NEW YORK (CNS) — The well-received feature films “Creed,” “The Martian” and “Room” are among 21 winners of Christopher Awards announced March 30 in New York.

They are joined by an ABC News documentary on the Islamic State, comedian Jim Gaffigan’s cable sitcom and Dolly Parton’s made-for-TV movie “Coat of Many Colors.”

The awards will be presented May 19 in New York. They were inaugurated in 1949 to celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit,” according to a statement by the organization.


The Christophers organization was founded by Maryknoll Father James Keller in 1945, in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity, and has long held as its guiding principle the ancient Chinese proverb “It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”

Parton, in a statement, likes that slogan. “I personally believe that with all my heart. I think the movie, ‘Coat of Many Colors,’ a true story from my childhood, does throw a light on a lot of things like family, hope, love, kindness, understanding and acceptance. It really spoke to the issue of bullying. I am very proud at how God works through me to shine a light, and to help heal a lot of hurt in a lot of people, and I am very proud of this award.”

“Escaping ISIS,” which aired on ABC’s “20/20” program, followed 189 Iraqi Christians as they find safe haven from terrorists in a Catholic church in Irbil, Iraq, before two Americans help them escape the country.

“The Jim Gaffigan Show” episode titled “My Friend the Priest” has Gaffigan feeling uncomfortable because his friendly parish priest tags along with him wherever he goes — even an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

Other TV winners were PBS’ “If You Build It,” in which two architectural designers move to North Carolina’s poorest county and use creative educational techniques to teach high school students how to transform their lives and community, and HBO’s “Tashi and the Monk,” which shows how a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas has created a home for abused, neglected and orphaned children, teaching them to move beyond their violent pasts and find healing through love and compassion.

In addition to “The Martian,” “Creed” and “Room,” a relatively unknown documentary, “The Drop Box,” also merited a Christopher Award. “A documentary about a pastor in South Korea who gives abandoned, disabled babies a loving home, ‘The Drop Box’ highlights the inherent dignity of society’s most vulnerable,” the Christophers said in making the award.

The Christopher Awards tabbed six winners in the Books for Adults category: “Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life’s Greatest Questions” by John Schlimm; “The Gift of Caring: Saving Our Parents from the Perils of Modern Healthcare” by Marcy Cottrell Houle and Elizabeth Eckstrom; “One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York” by Arthur Browne; “Tough As They Come” by Staff Sgt. Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton; “Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America” by Joseph Kim with Stephan Talty; and “The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, a Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken” by Wendell Pierce.

Another half-dozen winners were named in the Books for Young People category, one in each of six age groups.

— Preschool and up: “One Good Deed” by Terri Fields, illustrated by Deborah Melmon.

— Kindergarten and up: “An Invisible Thread Christmas Story” by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski, illustrated by Barry Root.

— Ages 6 and up: “Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton” by Don Tate.

— Ages 8 and up: “Katie’s Cabbage” by Katie Stagliano with Michelle H. Martin, illustrated by Karen Heid.

— Ages 10 and up: “Firefly Hollow” by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Christopher Denise

— Young adult: “Paper Hearts” by Meg Wiviott.