Author John Schlimm has won a Christopher Award for Five Years in Heaven

Author John Schlimm has won a Christopher Award for Five Years in Heaven
Yareah Magazine

Author John Schlimm has won a Christopher Award for Five Years in Heaven on May 19 in NYC.

Ceramics by Sister Augustine

Ceramics by Sister Augustine

The book, celebrated at The Christophers 67th annual gala, illustrates how the art of ceramics, conversation and trust inspire a young man and elderly nun to learn many things from one another.

John Schlimm has won a Christopher Award for Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life’s Greatest Questions,” [Image Books/Crown Publishing]. The art of ceramics, in addition to conversation and trust, inspired the main characters in this book that will be honored on May 19, 2016 at the 67th annual gala in New York.

The book takes place largely at a 150 year old Benedictine Monastery in St. Marys, Pa. where ceramist Sister Augustine, Schlimm’s wise 87 year old mentor and focus of his memoir, plied her craft. Schlimm is also an artist. He created the participatory 18-foot long art piece on canvas, “The Smile that Changed the World (is yours),” that debuted in Canada and Washington, D.C.  In June the installation will open at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pa. with a two-day event.

Ceramics by Sister Augustine

Ceramics by Sister Augustine

About Sister Augustine—called Gussie by her fellow nuns–Schlimm said: “She created a prolific body of work during her almost 45-year career, quietly, without fanfare. Her pieces were collected by people throughout the country and around the world. Not too bad for a simple farm girl who joined the convent in the early years of The Great Depression. When I met her, she had become long forgotten by the world.”

“Five Years in Heaven” is one of 12 books for adults and young people by 21 authors and illustrators to be celebrated by The Christophers, along with the writers, producers and directors of nine feature films and TV/Cable programs. Tony Rossi, Christophers director of communications, wrote, “In his book John chronicles his friendship with a nun whose kindness and wisdom led him to renewed hope, faith, and purpose in life.”

At age thirty-one, lost and alone at a crucial crossroads in his life, Schlimm met the wise and humble nun. He said: “In our society, many young people don’t know how to communicate, much less have a relationship, with the elderly, a loss for both. Schlimm has captured the potential dynamic between people 50 years apart and how the productive octogenarian became an inspiring model for a 30-something man.

Schlimm is also a member of the third oldest brewing family in the U.S., Straub Brewery, founded in St. Marys by his great-great grandfather in the 1870s. In addition to being an author and artist he’s a Harvard-trained educator and motivational speaker, has written several beer-related books and is also on the board of Straub Brewry. He created the “Embrace Compassion, Change the World” keynote address on Capitol Hill and has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, NPR, Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food, The Splendid Table, QVC, and Fox & Friends. He is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and as an “Architect of Change” for

Created in 1949, The Christopher Awards are presented to authors and illustrators as well as writers, producers and directors whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” Rossi says, “The world around us can seem like a dark place but the stories we honor with Christopher Awards remind us that we can illuminate the darkness by choosing to practice faith, love, compassion, courage, teamwork, and determination.”


The Christophers, a nonprofit organization founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. The ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio, and awards programs. More information about The Christophers is available at

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