Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0


Of course, catechesis today involves the heart, head and more!  As a catechist, you are challenged to teach the faith not only to children, but to their parents as well.  May the following reflections highlight for you 10 important signs for you:

  1. Suspends Stereotypes: We are all baptized and called to share our faith with our children and families.  It is not just “Father” or “Sister” called to teach faith today!  All of us by our baptism are invited to both learn and to share our faith knowledge with one another.
  2. Emphasizes Empathy: When you take time to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, that is empathy says Roman Krznaric.  Why is this important? To understand others, especially in their faith journey.
  3. Promotes Collaboration: Sharing faith involves two or more persons. How the Lord is part of our everyday life is important to share with others.  Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them. (Mt 18:20)
  4. Celebrates Creativity: The Gospel story can get old quickly. It takes new eyes to see the stories of Jesus alive in today’s world.  Perhaps the Gospel stories can be imagined as a gigantic erector set.  You can put anything together in new and original ways. The Gospel comes alive in our lives if we can see it clearly and plainly in our everyday stories.
  5. Values Voice: Today there is a Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum that focuses on ethical implementation and asks the questions: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?” Perhaps it is time to consider how we value the Catholic faith in our everyday lives.  Let’s ask the questions:  If my faith supported how I live in today’s world, would I be modeling the Christ who is compassionate and forgiving? Would I be serving the poor? How could I be most effective as a Catholic in today’s world?
  6. Promotes Digital Practices: We are living digital today whether we are ready or not. It is time to begin considering what it means to be a Digital Disciple in today’s world.  Digital transformation is a desired and shared vision of an outcome that can be achieved through a series of projects or a combination of initiatives.  It is time to begin imagining and implementing how we can engage in communication with others that provides a Christian outlook in everyday lives.
  7. Reinforces Reflection: We reflect daily on what has happened in our everyday lives asking: What went well? What didn’t? Why? How do I feel about it? In Ignatian Spirituality, this is referred to as the daily Examine.  As Catholics we want to analyze our experiences, make changes based on our mistakes, keep doing what nurtures our faith, and build upon or modify past knowledge based on new knowledge.  In faith, we are called to be Lifelong Learners!
  8. Engages in Prayer: Deacon Doug McManaman says, “You and I were created for prayer.  Life is about learning how to pray.  If the very purpose of human life is to know God and love God in eternity, then the purpose of life is prayer.  Read further his article, The Importance of Prayer. As a catechist we pray and engage those who are in our learning groups in learning more about prayer.  What a gift!
  9. Fosters Creative Projects: Our neighborhoods, cities, and world today are crying out for care and concern.  How we “see” what is around us and respond with others is critical today.  At my parish, Espiritu Santo Catholic Parish, there are numerous projects we are invited to participate in that by collaborating together we make a difference with serving those in need -packaging food for Catholic Relief Services – Helping Hands, serving at Pinellas Hope, and more.  All catechists today are called to find creative projects to care for others and the earth.
  10. Values Connections and Communication: There are many ways to stay connected with others.  By being a catechist you are connected with faith-filled friends who are not only called to serve, but are invited to share their faith with others in traditional and digital ways.  Following this article over the next three weeks, I’ll share a series of 3 articles that focus on being a Digital Disciple.  I invite you to come back to this blog and learn more.

As you reflect on these ten signs, you have an opportunity to celebrate.  After instructing over 400 participants of Digital Discipleship Boot Camp, I am aware that the Digital side of life is just emerging as an important part of today’s 21st Century Ministry.  If you are curious and want to become a Digital Disciple, I invite you to join one of the two cohorts (Winter or Summer) that are offered in the year.  Come and visit Digital Discipleship Boot Camp for additional information.

What “sign” do you celebrate the most?  Share your story in the “Comments” section below.


The saying attributed to Albert Einstein – Curiosity is intelligence having fun – is something to keep in mind as I return to writing articles about technology in ministry.  Why?  I call all involved in ministry to be curious with me about technology and to have “fun” while being curious.

There are various ways we can approach technology, for example:

  • FEAR: We can be so afraid of technology that we turn our back on it, ignore it, and not see it as valuable partner in our ministry world.
  • TINKER: Those who enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together again, can take a computer, laptop, tablet, or phone apart to see if they can put it back together again. They enjoy the mechanics of handling the pieces and weaving them into a unit that works.
  • NICE TO HAVE: Yes, we have the $$$$$$ for the tools. Let’s buy what we believe we will use.  We listen to the techy folks who surely know how to use technology in ministry.  I believe we need to ask – Well do they know how to use these tools in a learning environment?
  • DIGITAL PEDAGOGY: We are now living in a “paradigm shift” where learning is changing with the introduction of technology into the learning cycle. As an educator, I was shaped and formed by a system that today is tending towards being out-of-fashion!  We are leaning towards a digital culture that is changing how we teach, how we communicate, and how we work together.

Jesse Stommel is an Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He offers four characteristics of Critical Digital Pedagogy. Put another way, these are four things we might notice if digital teaching and learning is doing what it’s supposed to do.

Characteristics of Critical Digital Pedagogy

  1. It centers its practice on community and collaboration
  2. Must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries
  3. Will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather a cacophony of voices
  4. Must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education

I encourage you to explore Strommel’s PowerPoint where he describes Digital Pedagogy.

Now what does this mean for faith formation? We will go on to discover through our curiosity.  I trust that the articles that are already here and the articles to come, will continue to add to the conversation.  I invite all of my readers to join me in this ongoing conversation.  I invite you to return for the new articles or to simply search for articles that may interest you here at ACyberPilgrim.  Blessings!



As I read Michael Gormon’s post 200 Ways to Use Word Clouds in the Classroom , I missed seeing suggestions for the subject of RELIGION.

So here are 8 Suggestions for using a WordCloud in your religion classroom:

  1. Paste a Gospel Reading from the USCCB website into your Word Cloud tool. You may wish to turn off common words. Discuss the phrases or words that are important in this reading.
  2. Post students first names to create a Word Cloud of those who are part of your class.
  3. Students create a Word Cloud for the life of a specific saint or Scripture personality.
  4. Make a Word Cloud of certain Scripture events – e.g., Birth of Jesus, Jesus Lost in the Temple, etc. Then exchange the Word Cloud with another group and invite the group to identify the story.
  5. Pick the same story in Scripture as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John (e.g., Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew and Luke ) and create two different Word Clouds. Invite students to discuss what is unique to each storyteller.
  6. Make a Word Cloud of lyrics of your favorite Christian song.
  7. Have students create a Word Cloud using their favorite Bible Passage. They then present their Word Cloud to the class and invite students to guess the passage.
  8. Show a Video. Then invite groups of three to five students to identify words or phrases that are important to this video. Have students create a Word Cloud using their words or phrases.  Discuss the similarities and differences between the various word clouds created by each group.

You may want to look at a previous blog article WordClouds and Prayer  for suggestions to use a WordCloud in prayer.

I have a feeling that my readers have some other suggestions.  I invite you to add your suggestions in the “comment” section of this blog.


One social media tool that I love is Twitter!  Why? In 140 characters or less I can send a message to others simply using a mobile tool and the Twitter App which is available for both iPhone and Android users. Most of our classrooms have Internet access and many of our students have access to a smartphone or tablet.  Simply invite your students to bring these tools with them to class.  You’ll be amazed at how easily they will be able to engage in what you invite them to do.

Here are a few ideas to implement a Twitter activity in the K-12 religion classroom or you can tweet the activity to your families, inviting them to engage in a family activity together.

  1. Follow Pope Francis, your bishop or archbishop and other religious leaders on Twitter. Here are a few church leaders:
    1. Pope Francis –
    2. Bishop Paprocki –
    3. Bishop Edward Burns –

What is each leader sharing? What is the message of hope, joy, or mercy that each leader is calling attention to?

  1. Use Twitter to share prayer intentions. Have students use Twitter to share a prayer intention through 140 characters or less with a hashtag, e.g., #stjp.


  1. Instant feedback. Have a student respond to a question you have asked in class.  Use your class hashtag so that you can gather the responses all in one location to review using your cellphone or tablet Twitter App. This way many of your students have responded and you can quickly access who has grasped the material you have been studying.
  1. Pray Scripture Lectio Divina Style using Twitter. On Friday, read and reflect on the Sunday scripture by using the USCCB Sunday Scripture readings.  Project the Sunday Scripture on the screen using a LCD projector.  Invite the students to tweet the word or phrase that is meaningful to them at this time and add a designated hashtag.
  1. Poll the class. Use PollDaddy for Twitter. Use a poll as an interactive teaching tool in class.

As you imagine other opportunities of using Twitter in your classroom, I invite you to return to this blog posting and at the bottom of this page you will see “Leave a Comment”.  Click on this link.  Then share your story with us.


Digital Ideas for Lent!

Lent is this wonderful opportunity to reflect on various spiritual themes – the Year of Mercy and more! We often give things up.  Yet, I would like to challenge each of my readers to explore how they could “Evangelize” during Lent using any of the digital tools that are on their desktop, laptop, or any of the mobile tools that you have access to.

Why do I challenge you?  I listened to Fr. Frank DeSiano’s Webinar Lent in the Year of Mercy  recently.  And as I listened this slide was important to me –

What digital activities could be suggested?

What digital activities could be suggested?

Why?  Because my mind saw a chart just waiting to be transformed into ideas where we could be Digital Disciples and Evangelizers.  I invite you to “brainstorm” with me about possible options.  For example, I would retitle the slide to: Corporal Works of Mercy – Options for Digital Discipleship.  Then the three headings revised to: (1) Work, (2) Personal Digital Activity, and (3) Church Digital Activity.

As I begin to brainstorm, here are a couple of thoughts flowing through my mind:

(Work)To Feed the hungry  – (Personal Digital Activity) Give up a meal and contribute to the Catholic Relief Services

(Work) To clothe the naked  – (Church Digital Activity) – Create a graphic using Canva that promotes the local shelter with a call to action to bring in new or gently used clothes to give to the shelter.

Pinellas Hope-2

Use Graphic on Facebook or Tweet to your fans

I invite YOU, my wonderful readers, to continue to brainstorm for all us!  If you look at the chart, what do you see as possible options to be a Digital Disciple or Evangelizer?  I ask you to continue the conversation by clicking on the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link towards the bottom of this page.

I look forward to hearing the wonderful suggestions that you will offer this Digital Community!

Merciful Technology Prayer


Recently Digital Disciple Network Associates gathered in Orlando before attending the Future of Educational Technology Conference (FETC).  Claudia McIvor led us in prayer as we began. We may often wonder on “ our efforts to bring technology and faith together might bind the wounds of those who need to feel the healing touch of Jesus in the world today.”

I wanted to share this prayer with you as it highlights some of the possibilities of using technology for ministry.  You may wish to pray this with your staff in the future as you engage in conversations about the importance of technology in your ministries.

Watch this blog for more about technology and ministry after I attended the FETC Conference in Orlando last week.

Leader: In this year of Divine Mercy, let us reflect on how our efforts to bring technology and faith together might bind the wounds of those who need to feel the healing touch of Jesus in the world today. To guide us, we recall the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Leader: Many are hungry and thirsty. May we bring awareness to their needs and respond in generosity through the power of the Internet and social media.

R: Holy Spirit, impel us.

Leader:  The sick, the disabled, and the elderly often cannot join us in our churches. May our videos and live broadcasts reach out to touch, reassure and nurture them, bringing community into their homes.

R: Holy Spirit, inspire us.

Leader:  Isolation brings doubt and ignorance. May wisdom fly to those who are alone, reassuring them of God’s powerful and constant love, through our digital stories and emails.

R: Holy Spirit, guide us.

Leader:  Though we may be tempted to hold grudges, withhold kindness, or spread phobias, may we always choose to use digital media to forgive, instruct and share God’s love for all people, no matter their race or creed.

R: Holy Spirit, direct us.

Leader:  In all that we do in our ministries with technology, may we always be mindful of those in need, and may we call on the creative breath of God to find new ways to show mercy to all.

R: Holy Spirit, we trust in you.


The Corporal Works of Mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.

feed the hungry
give drink to the thirsty
clothe the naked
shelter the homeless
visit the sick
visit the imprisoned
bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.

counsel the doubtful
instruct the ignorant
admonish sinners
comfort the afflicted
forgive offenses
bear wrongs patiently
pray for the living and the dead


Recently, David Kapular shared a blog article Top 50 Sites and Apps of 2015. As I read through his list, I picked 16 that I felt had some possibility in the religion classroom.  I invite those who read this blog to try one, two, or three of these suggestions.  Please come back and share your story about how you are using the App in your program.  Or, if you would like to update us about the App in Catechesis20, please contact me by clicking on Contact Me.

  1. Seesaw– Excellent free mobile app (Android/iOS) for students creating digital portfolio with educational portal.
  2. Oncore– A free to use iPad app for teachers that acts like an all-in-one Learning Management System, where educators can assess students, take attendance, communicate with parents, and much more.
  3. Plotagon– A wonderful site/app for digital storytelling where students create animated movies (i.e Xtranormal) by typing a script.
  4. Sketch Nation– A great free site/app (iOS/Android) for creating games.  Students can also work on their STEM skills and learn the basics of programming.
  5. Ignite Teaching– An excellent free iPad app for Project Based Learning through collaborative digital presentations/projects.
  6. WhatsDue– A cool new free mobile app (iOS/Android) for keeping students and parents up to date on what is happening in the classroom.
  7. Bloomz– Bloomz is a free (iOS/Android) app for educators looking to communicate with parents via mobile devices.
  8. Versal– A nice site for creating interactive digital lessons, that is ideal for online learning.
  9. Learnteria–  A new site for educators looking for reviews on a wide variety items, such as: sites, books, apps, and more.
  10. Story Shares– An interesting new site for readers grades K-12th.  Story Shares creates digital books that are customized per Reading Level.
  11. Quizizz– A excellent site for creating multiplayer quizzes where educators get results in real-time.
  12. Choosito– A new and safe way to search the web for students and library resources.
  13. Make It– A nice iOS app for grades K-2nd for creating games, stories, slideshows, and more.
  14. FlipQuiz– A fun site for creating Jeopardy style game quizzes.
  15. Scoodle Jam– A great iPad app for grades K-6th ideal for Project Based Learning.  Students can create presentations, drawings, projects, and more as well as choose through lots of educational templates.
  16. Kidtopia– A nice safe COPPA/CIPA compliant search engine for kids/students.

For those who live in the Florida area, if you are interested in learning more about educational technology, I invite you to attend the Future of Educational Technology Conference.  For 36 years, FETC has brought education leaders and technology experts together to exchange techniques and strategies for teaching and learning success.  Known worldwide for its outstanding program FETC provides educators and administrators the opportunity to explore the integration of technology across the curriculum – from kindergarten to college – through hands-on exposure to the latest hardware, software and successful strategies.  FETC offers a wealth of information for all education professionals which can be easily adapted and used by ministry professionals.

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