Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Word Clouds and Prayer

At the 2011 Catechetical Ministry Day for the Diocese of St. Augustine, I was invited to do a workshop titled “Praying with Technology.”  I must admit that as I began to develop the workshop, I was not sure what I would include in the presentation.

The insight I gained is that tools have always been used in prayer.  Tools like parchment to record our Sacred Scriptures with the psalms and words of Jesus as he prayed and more.  The printing press allowed us to create a variety of prayer resources.  We often use a pen or a pencil to record the prayers that we want to share with others.

In today’s digital culture, we now have different tools to use.  To name a few: laptop or desktop computers, iPads and tablets, iPods and MP3 Players, a Blog, a Wiki and more Web 2.0 tools than you may be aware of.

In this post I want to focus on Word Clouds.  There are several web   services that allow you to create a word cloud.  My three favorites are:

Let’s just take the words of the Our Father and create a word cloud with them.

Our Father Wordle Cloud

Our Father Wordle Cloud

ABCYD Word Cloud

ABCYD Our Father Word Cloud

Tagxedo Our Father Word Cloud

Tagxedo Our Father Word Cloud

You ask – So how could I use a “Word Cloud” with my students?  Following are a couple of suggestions.   I encourage you to reflect on how you might use a “Word Cloud” with your class, RCIA members, youth groups, and any group you are involved with catechetical ministry.


  1. Create a word cloud with one of the word cloud tools.  These services usually allow you to embed the code into your blog, or forward a link to others via e-mail, or you just may want to save the graphic image of this word cloud to use in a PPT presentation.  You’ll notice in the graphics I’ve included that there are key words that stand out.   Perhaps the students could guess what prayer this word cloud represents.  Add the Our Father word cloud in a PowerPoint guided prayer at the point where you would say the Our Father.  When they see the prayer cloud, they would – in this case – say the Our Father together.
  2. Invite your students to go home and create a Word Cloud using the week’s assigned prayer that they are learning this week.  Then direct them to come to the Class Wiki.  They can “embed” the code of this graphic on their page and in 50 to 100 words, they can respond to the following:  When you pray (Name of Prayer), if you had the opportunity to rewrite this prayer in your own words, what would you say to God? Or, any other assigned task.
  3. Create a Wordle for 10 Different Prayers.  Then add these graphics to a PowerPoint.  As a brief quiz to see who is able to identify the prayer they represent, using a response system like Quizdom (or just plain cell phones and Poll EveryWhere invite the students to identify the prayers that the word clouds represent.

As you become comfortable with “word clouds”, and use this type of activity with your class, remember to come back to this blog post to share your story.  Your story is important!

Remember to click the LIKE button!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Comments on: "Word Clouds and Prayer" (11)

  1. I can see that I will spend the rest of the day making Wordles.

    These are neat! I can’t figure out if there’s a way to tell it *not* to make the most frequently used words the largest words in the cloud – it seems like it keeps making “THY” the biggest word in the cloud, which would seem to indicate it’s the most important one? I guess that could be an activity with students, too – tell them to make a word cloud and base the size of the words on their importance within the overall prayer.

    • Hi Dorian, I have a feeling that there is some kind of formula embedded in the overall code which judges what words are larger than others. Like yourself, I’ve tried to figure out how to make other words larger. Still haven’t figured out why? Looking forward to hearing about how you involve students with Prayer Word Clouds!

  2. LOVE THIS! Will use this Wednesday night for my Adult RCIA We will be reviewing the Mass and I will be interested to see what words they use . . . .

  3. […] We see them on blogs as “tag clouds,” automatically generated displays of terms that highlight the most frequently used words. Sr. Caroline Cerveny of A Cyberpilgrim’s Blog shared a twist on the idea – creating Word Clouds from prayers: […]

  4. Each of those tools is meant for different things. Tagxedo has the ability to create “art” from text. Wordle shows you word frequency, which helps get underlying themes out of text.

    I have used Wordle to help explain encyclicals to volunteers and students. It is great to pull the entire text off the vatican web site, put it in Wordle, and see the main themes of the document come to life.

    Polleverywhere is also great and can get people really excited about participating. I have used that with large groups and had them competing to be the first ones in using the free account!

  5. I was at this workshop and thought these were soo cool! I love your blog and everything you do to bring technology into the church! I’m working on a blog post to show all my readers all the resources you provided us at the class and will give a link back to your blog. I’ll let you know when I post it.

  6. Hi Alex, Thanks for your wonderful contribution. I love how you are using Wordle!

  7. […] Another thing you can do is use it for compare and contrast. The first word cloud was with the old version of the Gloria and the 2nd one is for the new version of the Gloria. By looking at the word clouds you can see that God, Lord and Father were common phrases in the old Gloria but in the new Gloria God and Father are common phrases but Lord is not since it isn’t as big.  For more information on word clouds see how Sister Caroline used them here. […]

  8. […] to promote learning amongst a church’s youth and adults.  Poll Everywhere was promoted in Cyberpilgrim’s Blog post as a quiz tool for students to identify prayers within a Wordle cloud.  The spread of […]

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