How do you take stock of a year?  

It is easy to note the “big” events that occurred — natural disasters, elections, uprisings, huge gatherings of the faithful. But there are also many “small” moments that make up the year, many of which don’t reach the major news outlets, yet are important in their own quiet ways. 

To capture those events, I asked Catholic photographers Jeffrey Bruno, Karen Callaway, Sam Lucero and Tom Tracy to share with readers the most poignant image of the thousands of photographs they took last year. It’s interesting to note all chose intimate moments, rather than big news events. OSV Designer Lindsey Riesen and I selected some, too.


Memorable Images of 2011

John Paul 2 beatified

JOHN PAUL II’S BEATIFICATION | OSV STAFF PICK
People pack St. Peter’s Square and the Via della Conciliazione leading up to the square during the beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1 at the Vatican. The late Polish pontiff moved a step closer to sainthood during a joyous ceremony that drew more than 1 million people. Such an outpouring of love for the late pontiff was nothing short of amazing to see. CNS photo from Reuters

Benin

PAPAL VISIT TO BENIN | OSV STAFF PICK
Pope Benedict XVI is surrounded by children dancing and singing as he arrives during his visit to St. Rita church in Cotonou, Benin, Nov. 19. The pope was in the West African nation to present the conclusions of the 2009 Synod of Bishops for Africa. Who doesn’t love a picture of the pope with children? I particularly like the shy smile on the pontiff’s face as he’s escorted into the church. This quiet, holy man has touched the hearts of Catholics all over the globe. CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo

Chaput

A NEW DAY | OSV STAFF PICK
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput greets people as he exits the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul following his Mass of installation in Philadelphia Sept. 8. Archbishop Chaput’s appointment has given hope to an archdiocese racked with clergy abuse accusations and financial woes. CNS photo by Nancy Phelan Wiechec

World Youth Day

WORLD YOUTH DAY RESPITE | TOM TRACY
World Youth Day pilgrims relax at Parque del Buen Retiro in Madrid on a free day for catechesis and recreation on the Wednesday of the WYD agenda, 2011. While not a highly emotional or energetic news photo, I found it a poignant moment showing some Portuguese pilgrims taking in the sights, at what was a kind of oasis during WYD. Retiro Park was a very restful and spiritual place to be during WYD, and I suspect it will not be forgotten by those participants who went there. I had photographed Retiro years ago during winter and enjoyed seeing it in this entirely different summer festival context. Photo by Tom Tracy

Libya

REBEL CHEER | OSV STAFF PICK
Libyan rebel fighters celebrate after seizing control of Moammar Gadhafi’s army women’s officer training center in Tripoli’s Qarqarsh district Aug. 22. The overthrowing of several governments captured our attention in 2011, including the dramatic uprising and war in Libya that led to President Moammar Gadhafi’s death in October. Reuters photo by Bob Strong

Chicago

PRAYERS FOR NONVIOLENCE | KAREN CALLAWAY
Deacon Leroy Gill from Holy Angels Parish on the South Side of Chicago points up to the sky during a reflection. The Black Catholic Deacons of Chicago hosted five back-to-school sunrise prayer services on Aug. 27 to pray for nonviolence during the 2011-2012 school year. Deacon Gill, who also serves at Holy Angels School, has long been a leader in addressing violence in the city. He organized the prayer services at the beach, now in their second year, as well as several others throughout the year at parishes in neighborhoods where violence is rampant. He has known Holy Angels students who died by gun violence. I don’t know the true reason he pointed to the sky, but I think at that moment he was making a connection with God. It really moved me knowing how passionate he is about trying to keep the kids at his parish and school safe. Photo by Karen Callaway of The Catholic New World

Hmong

HMONG CELEBRATION | SAM LUCERO
Altar server Hlee Chee Lee, wearing a traditional Hmong headdress, smiles before the opening procession of a Hmong New Year Mass held Dec. 17 at St. Jude Church in Green Bay, Wis. The Hmong New Year, traditionally celebrated in November or December to mark the end of the harvest season, is a time of thanksgiving. Green Bay Bishop David Ricken presided at the annual diocesan Hmong Mass, which was attended by about 200 people. This photo stood out to me because it portrays happiness, a joyful sense of faith. Her smile symbolizes a joy of faith she holds in her heart. Photo by Sam Lucero of The Compass

Japan nuclear disaster

TRAGEDY IN JAPAN | OSV STAFF PICK
A mother tries to talk to her daughter who has been isolated for signs of radiation after evacuating from the vicinity of Fukushima’s nuclear plants, at a makeshift facility to screen, cleanse and isolate people with high radiation levels in Nihonmatsu, northern Japan, after the March 13 earthquake and tsunami. To me, this photo symbolizes the very personal impact of a massive tragedy. It’s easy to forget in the face of a natural disaster of such a large magnitude the very intimate ways in which victims’ lives are altered. Reuters photo by Yuriko Nakao

September 11

9/11 REMEMBRANCE | OSV STAFF PICK
A firefighter touches the name of a loved one at the Empty Sky Memorial in New Jersey’s Liberty State Park Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. CNS photo by Octavio Duran

David O Connell

THE SERVANT LEADER | JEFFREY BRUNO
Former Catholic University president, Father David M. O’Connell, now bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J. only a few months into his new office, is seen kneeling in prayer moments before leading his first ordination as bishop. The men he would ordain on this day to the transitional diaconate will continue on to the priesthood where they will serve as leaders to the faithful. The reality that God continues to call men to abandon their lives to service through Holy Orders reveals that we live in a Church that is not of the past but is ongoing and eternal; a Church that continues to need the prayerful leadership of those duly called. Photo by Jeffrey Bruno

Sarah Hayes is OSV presentation editor.