Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for January, 2011

Encountering a Virtual Mystagogy

Welcome to our guest blogger, Carmen Cayon!

Carmen Cayon

Carmen Cayon

This year I began a new position as Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization. As I gathered the RCIA team I introduced our blog site; Incarnation Catholic RCIA as a tool we could use to better communicate with each other and with our catechumens.

Our Core Team consists of “Digital Immigrants” and the challenge: how to sell these catechists on the value of a blog site. As I reflected on this challenge, I realized that I am part of the problem. I allow my own fears and bias’ to affect the way I think about blogs. Therefore, part of my work has to be to surround myself with digital natives, those whose way of thinking is not impacted by the same fears that I hold for the new frontier our Holy Father calls the “digital continent”.

Areas that I believe our RCIA blog will help our parish:

  • Fosters friendships through continuing dialogue
  • Cultivates a sense of community by getting to know each other’s needs better
  • Provides a way to communicate our mission as Catholics through continuing catechesis
  • Inspires us with the “big picture” by providing a place to post and dialogue about how God communicates his love for us through visible signs.
  • Deepens the Catholic identity experience through links to other valid Catholic sites


Being around “Digital Natives” helps me see that the digital continent can be holy ground. We must confront our fears, assess our own biases, and learn from those who have an openness and flexibility toward a new way of being there for one another.

Am I suggesting that we throw out the old ways of communicating; ie, physically gathering each week, emails, sending cards or notes in the mail….absolutely not! Most of our RCIA participants are used to the new way of being community – they “Skype” with their peers regularly, use their cell phones for everything from checking the time to sending instant images of a moment in their day. For this generation, their world is much more interactive that mine was. As noted by Bishop Ron Herzog, USCCB Communication Committee, in his address to the Catholic Bishops at the November 2010 Assembly, “We have to be enculturated. It’s more than just learning how to create a Facebook account. It’s learning how to think, live and embrace life on the Digital Continent.”

This is a new kind of evangelization that our Church is calling us to, we must not ignore it!

RCIA Core Team

RCIA Core Team

Carmen Cayon is the Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization at Incarnation Catholic Church, Tampa, Florida.

Next Week – Online Collaboration & Communication Tools

Photo Credit: Photography by Cayon (c) 2010.

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Blogging Knowledge

What is a blog?  Laura Turner recently said, A blog (a blend of the term “web log”) is a type of website or part of a website.  One person usually maintains Blogs with regular entries.  Entries are typically displayed in chronological order.  Typically a blog is a combination of personal diary and a commentary guide to other information on the web.  A blog is usually a one page website, often with embedded gadgets or widgets.

What I feel is missing in Turner’s description, is that a blog is about entering into a conversation with your audience.  It is to involve a two-way conversation between yourself (the blogger) and those who are reading your blog.  If you want a one-way conversation, that is a traditional website that simply shares information with others and does not engage the participant in the overall conversation.  The conversation allows the blog to be part of the social media environment that surrounds us today.

So what do we need to know about blogging in ministry?  Blogging is a form of social media and getting involved with social media is encouraged by our Bishops.  Check out:

Bishops Urged to Embrace Social Media in Order to Effectively Evangelize ‘Digital Continent’ and the recent Catholic News Service article by Cindy Wooden – The printed word: Meeting looks at challenges for Catholic press.

You’re reading a blog now, that is focused on meeting the need of a specific audience – ministers who are interested in integrating technology into their catechetical or parish ministries.  When I explore Catholic blogs, I have discovered two resources – 2009 Catholic Blog Awards and the Catholic Blog Directory.

As you begin to think about writing a blog, I encourage you to choose several blogs from these resources and identify what folks are writing about.  Try to determine the intended audience and the mission of the blog.  Is it clear?  What do you like about the blog?  What would you improve?  Will your blog be a duplication of what another is doing or will it be unique?

You have probably discovered that there are excellent blogs, mediocre blogs, and awful blogs!  Why – Anyone can publish today.  We all have different skills! So, if you are going to start a blog – be clear about why and who you are serving!  Once you are clear about who and what you are writing about, then I suggest the following steps:

  1. Decide on who your audience will be.
  2. What will you communicate to this audience?  Is this blog to inform? teach? engage others in learning more about their faith? Other?
  3. How often will you post a blog page? Once a week?  Daily? Monthly?  Other?
  4. Briefly outline the first five blog posts, if possible outline what you will write about for the first quarter of the year.  Remember in starting a blog, you are making a commitment to starting a conversation with your audience!
  5. Invite a few friends or colleagues to be part of the beginning of this blog.  Share your thoughts and ideas with them.  Ask them to give you feedback as you continue to develop the blog.
  6. If possible, invite someone to read your posts before they are published online.  This way you can “polish” the text to make sure it has good grammar, correct spelling, and great information for your readers.
  7. When you’re ready, then choose your blog tools!
  8. Once you have chosen your tool, you’re ready to post your thoughts and reflections.  Remember to complete your profile with your photo and background information.  Your readers want to meet you and know something about you.

Now I mention blog tools, as what you are going to create involves more than just adding text to your post.  Check out the 10 Free Blogging Tools I Just Can’t Live Without by  Susan Gunelius. There are wonderful suggestions here as sometimes you will need photo’s and at other times you will need to edit photo’s.

To learn what others are saying about the blog tool you might choose for your blog, visit Forbes Blog Tools to become more familiar with the following tools: WordPress, Blogger, Blogsome, Movable Type, Textpattern, B2evolution, Live Journal, MSN Spaces, Squarespace, Typepad, and Yahoo 360.  I’m using WordPress and you may enjoy using any one of these tools or others that you may discover.  Choose what you are comfortable with and find easy to use.  We each have personal preferences for why we use the tool we are using!

If you will be blogging with children, you may want to consider:

Class BlogMeister – Class Blogmeister is a online classroom blogging tool provided free of subscription or purchase charge by The Landmark Project, a consulting firm providing information and services for educator and education agencies..

EduBlogs – Free blogs for teachers, researchers, librarians and other educational professionals

KidBlog – This site is designed for elementary and middle school teachers who want to provide each student with their own, unique blog. Kidblog’s simple, yet powerful tools allow students to publish posts and participate in discussions within a secure classroom blogging community. Teachers maintain complete control over student blogs.

BlogEasy – BlogEasy offers free blog hosting, which is a free web page publishing and syndication service that allows users to quickly share information, such as news, reviews, blogs, journals, weblogs,

In the following articles, you will find some helpful points to keep in mind when blogging in the classroom:

How to Create a Blog for Your Classroom from – Here you will find some great suggestions of how to use a blog with a group of students.

What You Would Like To Know About Student Blogging -Here you will find answers to questions asked during a Blogging Workshop.  Very helpful hints here!

Blogs on Educational Blogging – Here you can review a variety of blogs to see how others are using a blog in an educational setting with students. As you see what other educators are doing with their students with a blog, use your imagination to see what you may create and implement with your students.

Weblogg-ed – Weblogg-ed, maintained by Will Richardson, blogevangelist and Supervisor of Instructional Technology and Communications at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, NJ. This site is dedicated to discussions and reflections on the use of Weblogs, wikis, RSS, audiocasts and other Read/Write Web related technologies in the K-12 realm, technologies that are transforming classrooms around the world.

What I discovered about blogging, is that when you feel ready, jump in with both feet.  You will learn by doing!  I am also inviting those who are using a blog as a learning tool with their students or RCIA groups to share their stories as a visiting blogger via ACyberPilgrim blog.

When you review the results of the online survey –What Technologies Do I Need to Learn This 2011 year – you will notice that our competencies in this area range from little or no experience to being comfortable.  I would encourage those who are comfortable in any of the identified areas to consider being catalysts in their own parish programs.  Many of us need to be mentored into using the tools of the 21st Century.  Thank you to all who took time to complete the survey!

Next week, you will hear from Carmen Cayon, Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization and Coordinator of Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at Incarnation Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida.  Come back to visit to hear what Carmen will share with us about using a blog in the RCIA program.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post.  Your comments and questions about blogging are most welcome!  If you are currently implementing a blog in your ministry, please share your link and a brief story about your blog in the comments.

Please share this blog information with others!  When you click on the “Share” button at the bottom of this page, you can forward this page information via email, FaceBook, or a Tweet!  If you “like” this post, click on the “Like” button that follows this post.  Remember, blogging is an interactive medium!  Let’s read and share!

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Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

What technologies for 2011?

Today’s minister is challenged to be skilled in today’s communications technologies!  You can be a catechist, a Catholic School Religion Teacher, Principal, Director of Religious Education, Parish Catechetical Leader, RCIA Director, Youth Minister, Pastor, or any of the ministers that are important to today’s parish life.  However, you live in the 21st Century!  And 21st Century Skills are key to your being relevant today!

So did any of your New Year’s resolutions include learning new technology skills?  If yes, great!  If not, you may want to consider adding to your resolutions list!

Whiteboard and Student

Whiteboard Activity

Realistically, you may never use all of the technologies I will outline for you.  However, you need to be knowledgeable in the following technologies and how the technology could be/might be used in your ministry:

  1. Blogging Knowledge
  2. Online Collaboration & Communication Tools
  3. Database Skills
  4. Google Earth Knowledge
  5. Google Tools Knowledge
  6. IM knowledge
  7. Interactive White Board skills (Eg., Mimeo, SmartBoard, Promethium, and others)
  8. Mobile and Handheld Computing
  9. Presentation Tools
  10. RSS feeds
  11. Social Bookmarking Knowledge
  12. Social Networking Knowledge
  13. Spreadsheets Skills
  14. Video and Podcasting – especially Digital Storytelling
  15. Virtual Worlds
  16. Web Resources in content area
  17. Web Searching skills
  18. Web2.0 Tools
  19. Website design and management skills
  20. Wiki Knowledge

Over the next twenty plus weeks, I will outline for you resources, suggestions, and more for you about each of the technologies.  Remember that “blogging” is about entering into a conversation.  I invite you as readers of this blog, to enter into the sharing of the resources and thoughts and ideas you may have about any of these areas. In this audience, there are already “pioneers” who are integrating many of these technologies into their ministries.  I invite you to share your story, your links so that others may learn from you.

You may also want to quickly assess, where you are at in these skill areas.  Go to – What Technologies Do I Need to Learn This 2011 Year survey.  What is so good to see is that those who have already responded, there are some who are very comfortable with these skills, some moderately comfortable, and others who say “Thanks for putting this survey together—it’s nice to answer questions that show me how much I’d like to learn!” (Anonymous)

What Technologies

What Technologies?

I trust you will enjoy this series!  Many of us may feel like Digital Immigrants.  However, just as it is possible to learn a new language, it is possible to learn and be part of this evolving and growing Digital World.

Please share this blog information with others!  When you click on the “Share” button at the bottom of this page, you can forward this page information via email, FaceBook, or a Tweet!

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Remember, there are many ways to learn these new skills.  The following are just a few:

  • Ask your sons/daughters, nieces/nephews to mentor you.
  • Invite your Youth Minister and the youth of the parish to create a parish mentor program for catechists and parish ministers who would like to learn more about technology.
  • Follow blog articles and create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) of websites where you can learn more about technology.
  • Attend conferences like INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS, where you can gather with other ministry folks to learn more about technology in ministry
  • Locate YouTube videos to learn how to use a new technology
  • When you attend a Diocesan Resource Day or National Catechetical conference, choose ONE Technology workshop
  • Any other suggestions?  How do you learn new technology skills?

In this wonderful 2011 year, may your resolution to learn new technology skills, bring you closer to blending our wonderful message of hope and love in face-to-face sharing as well as enhancing what you do with digital communications!

Next Week – Blogging Knowledge

Photo Credit: Photography by Cerveny (c) 2010.

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