The Michael Kelly Award

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Christine Kenneally


The sexual-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is a worldwide phenomenon, and the statistics are often numbing: untold thousands of children and adolescents abused by countless priests and others wielding the authority of religion. Too often the full horror of the crimes is clouded by the scale of the numbers. Christine Kenneally set out to take a close look at a single institution. Led to the subject by an investigation of orphanages, and supported by BuzzFeed News, Kenneally’s ultimately focused on the tragic history of abuse and even murder at a single Catholic orphanage in Vermont—a gripping narrative that combines relentless enterprise and moral steadfastness.


Christine Kenneally was a senior contributor at BuzzFeed News for 4 years, working on an American orphanage story. Published in August 2018, the story was viewed more than six millions times in six months and prompted an investigation that is still ongoing into the allegations of abuse and murder that she covered. Kenneally, an award-winning journalist and author, has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, Time, New Scientist, Scientific American, and other publications. Her books, The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures, and The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, are published by Penguin. Before becoming a reporter, Kenneally received a Ph.D. in linguistics from Cambridge University and a B.A. (Hons) in English and Linguistics from Melbourne University. She was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia.

We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage

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