Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for January, 2012

Words of Wisdom and Welcome!

Bishop of Orlando, Florida

Bishop John Noonan

On Tuesday, at INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS, we were welcomed by Bishop John Noonan to the Diocese of Orlando, with these wonderful welcoming words:

Welcome to the Third Interactive Connections Conference!  I am grateful for the presence of pilgrims such as yourselves in our Diocese of Orlando, especially when you graciously visit to become more skilled and enlightened ministers of the Gospel. I understand some of you hail from throughout the United States, including our neighbors in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida.  Some of you are visiting from Japan, and my own native Ireland. I pray you find the Spirit of the Lord upon you throughout your learning and sharing experiences during the Conference.

Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, “I would like to underline the fact that, in the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today’s world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope. And in this commitment to a holistic education, formation in justice and peace has a place.”

Today, you have an extraordinary opportunity to explore the tools of technology as wondrous gifts of the Lord to form our young people with a message of justice and peace.  Our young people are growing up in a world that has become smaller, where contacts between each other and different cultures and traditions are constant.  As Pope Benedict also said, “For them, now more than ever, it is indispensable to learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding.”

In a young person’s world where technology is ever present, I encourage you to spread the Good News through its use.  Bring them a message of justice and peace.  Show them how this message can be communicated and how these tools, which are God-given, can also be sacred vehicles to bring about joy and good will and alleviate pain and suffering. Integrate grace and culture, technology and media.

Technology cannot replace the presence of each other with each other.  It cannot offer the feel of a person’s hand upon yours; nor strength of arms to hold you; nor the widening of our faces into a smile as you reach out to greet another.  When we use technology to glorify the Lord, it blossoms relationship and draws us closer still to our God.

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ, may we at all times bless the Lord God, and ask Him to make all our paths straight and to grant success to all our endeavors and plans.

Thank you Bishop Noonan for welcoming us to your diocese!  We are becoming Digital Disciples!

We will be in Orlando next week!

The third annual Interactive Connections Conference takes place Monday (evening), January 23 thru Thursday, January 26, 2012 at the Doubletree Orlando at Seaworld. The theme “Incarnating the Gospel in the Digital World” will bring together leading Catholic educators from around the world to explore the evolving role of technology in their ministries.  Responding to Pope Benedict’s call to use new technologies in the cause of evangelization, the participants will get firsthand experience of best practices and how to incorporate them into their ministry. Attendees at the conference will network with others in integrating technology into parishes and/or schools and every facet of catechetical ministry in the 21st century.

 Keynote speaker Fr. Lawrence Rice, C.S.P,  previous Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at Ohio State University and an Associate at Paulist Media Works and Paulist Communications, will focus on Preparing for the Post-computer Church. Currently he is a member of the Paulist Congregation team, as first Consultor. Learning sessions will include topics such as: Lead by the Technology at the Service of Catechesis, Mobile Technologies in Your Ministry and Church, Parish Websites: Tools of Evangelization, and other cutting edge outstanding programming.  Attendance will afford you the opportunity to interact with passionate practitioners who are ground-breakers in e-technology integration into all areas of catechetical ministry.

A new feature is Speed Dating Learning Sessions!  Here is an opportunity to meet practioners who are applying what they are learning to their parish ministries.  You will learn about – Serving Busy Catechists through Web tools for Catechist Certification, Evangelizing Through Geocaching, Parent to Parent Podcasting, and more.

A featured highlight and unique offering of the 3-day Interactive Connections Conference will be spending one or two days – at no additional cost with the FETC (Florida Education Technology Conference) in Orlando, one of the largest, most successful K to12 conferences in the United States devoted to educational technology. This gives our conference even more access to  cutting edge technologies and social media across the curriculum while being exposed to the latest hardware, software, best practices in student technology use and the opportunity to visit some 300 technology vendors.

If you are coming, I look forward to welcoming you.  If you are not, join us on Twitter at hashtag: #IC2012.  All attendees are invited to share their stories, insights, and learning’s in this space!

Serving, Ministering and Evangelizing in a Digital Culture

Gigs, Geeks, and God 2.0

Wow – 2012 has begun!  Our New Year resolutions may be focusing around exercising.  Eating more vegetables.  Yes, even house cleaning.  But there are some who are beginning the year via Gigs, Geeks, and God 2.0: Technology in Faith Formation.

I shared my thoughts about  The 21st Century Catechetical Leader: Serving, Ministering, and Evangelizing in a Digital Culture today.  Yes, it is a challenge to be a 21st century leader!  Digital skills are needed.  Many of us  were not raised with computers or any other digital tool.  Often we may feel like a fish trying to swim in unfamiliar waters.  Yet, swim we must!

I love being on the other side of the camera.  Many folks are unaware that I once was a wedding photographer for Edward Fox studios in Chicago.  So today, I am on the other side of a webcam delivering a keynote at a Milwaukee technology day for Catechetical Leaders, Youth Ministers, and other Parish Staff.  When I began my catechetical ministry, I never imagined that I would ever be able to do what I did today from another part of the USA (sunny Tampa) presenting to a group in Milwaukee.  With the simple tools of a computer, webcam, mobile phone, and Internet connection while using GoToMeeting to connect with one another.

It takes some practice to do digital presentations.  Yet, the practice results in an event that not only saves money (travel, housing costs, and food), but we have the capability today to do what are called “blended” events.  The blended event uses technology for a purpose and of course on-site face-to-face interaction in the program with others who are in the same geographic location and travel to the hosting location.

What are the advantages of blended professional development events?  Of course, you get to interact and hear others who are not in your part of the world.  The disadvantages?  Yes, I’m one that loves to see folks, interact with them, have coffee or a beverage with them, or just laugh with them.  Well, even in the Digital presentation that is all possible.  I’d encourage you to read the eLearning Advantages and Disadvantages article.  Then come back to this blog to share your insights and learning about the potential of doing blended professional development.  What possibilities do you see in your parish? deanery? diocese?

We’re now able to interact with each other in various ways – before, during, and after an event.  Those who are onsite, will share coffee, donuts and conversation with one another.  In addition, for this event, we can now do the following:

  • Before the conference, go to the Gigs, Geeks, and God Facebook page to follow and participate in the pre-conversation.
  • During the conference, using your mobile phone, Twitter your comments to those who are following you on your Twitter account.  If you add a hashtag  to your 140 character message – for this event use #gigsandgeeks as your hashtag.  Why?  Go to your Twitter page and at the search field enter in #gigsandgeeks.  In a few seconds all tweets associated with this event will show.

Milwaukee Hashtag Summary

  • After the event, search for the conference Twitter Hashtag and/or go back to the Facebook page and/or respond to this blog.

Using Hashtags allows for what is called Backchannel Communication.  As you think of things during (or even after) the conference tweet the 140 character messages to your followers with the hashtag.  If you are interested in learning more about the Backchannel style of Communication, I recommend reading: The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever

Today, we are in a participatory culture!  Henry Jenkins, Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a paper on digital media and learning titled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century describes this culture as –

A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).

We need to ask ourselves – How will we evangelize and share our faith in this ever evolving Digital Culture?  How we catechize is changing!  As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.”  And I recently heard a friend say, “Without the medium, there is no message.”

So a big congratulations to Milwaukee for their Gigs, Geeks and God 2.0 professional development day.  Here’s an article by Gary Pokorny, CSA Supports Catholics Called To Pass On the Faith.  Gary highlights what his office is doing and how Gigs, Geeks and God is related to it.  It’s wonderful to see how a Diocesan Office is integrating technology into the training and development of their catechetical ministers.  Do check out the Catechesis and Youth Ministry website.  I so appreciate the Technology in Faith Formation page.  One way to engage our catechetical leaders in the importance today of integrating technology into their ministry.

Note:  The following is a recorded version of today’s presentation.

21st Century Catechetical Leader: Serving, Ministering, and Evangelizing in a Digital Culture from Caroline Cerveny on Vimeo.


(c) 2011, Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

Tag Cloud