Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for March, 2013

Our Easter Celebration

The Sunrise Mass held at Philipe Park  in Safety Harbor, a short walk from Espiritu Santo Catholic Church is one of my favorite liturgies.  Why?  In the quiet of an Easter morning we walk in the dark to find our place and then the gift of a morning sunrise reminds us what it was like for Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who were on their way to the tomb, just after sunrise.

Imagine their astonishment, as we ponder the words of Mark 16: 4-7:

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay

So my Easter Week, begins at the edge of Tampa Bay.  During this wonderful “Easter Week” I ponder the fact the “He has risen!”  What does that really mean for me today in a culture that is surrounded by a variety of issues – being homeless, an immigrant, being cyberbullied, racism, drug abuse, child abuse, the environment, and more.

I invite each of you to share how you ponder this gift of the Lord now being alive in our everyday lives! Or take a moment to reflect on Seeing Myself in Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Sister Bernadette Reis, fsp.

What does it mean to have the Lord with us always? Does this awareness assist us in being the presence where we share our gifts and talents to change some part of the world around us to be better than we first found it?

I guess I wonder, why do I celebrate this feast of Easter if I am not willing to be one who shares the Risen Lord with those I meet on a daily basis?

Do we see love, grace and more in the incredible life of Jesus, who says, “He is with us always?”

Of course, if you like this post, just click the “Like” button.  Or take a moment to share how the Lord is with you in your everyday life.

© 2013 Cerveny.

 

Stations of the Cross and Virtual Journeys

If you have ever been in Jerusalem, you have probably experienced praying the Stations of the Cross winding your way through tight and narrow streets.  I experienced this prayer journey in May during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  The memory of the noise, people staring at us as they passed buy, and taking a turn at carrying the cross will not be forgotten.  This is the journey that the Lord once took as he was condemned to die for us.

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So, in a digital world, how can we pray the Stations of the Cross in a meaningful way? Saint Mary’s Press is providing a wonderful way to do this with their – Virtual Meditations: Stations of the Cross.

A young person today, using QR Codes, can:

  • Actively engage in prayer by using their cell phones, iPods, or iPads
  • Use videos to inspire their prayer
  • Use technology to help them understand and reflect on the Stations of the Cross

I just prayed the stations using my iPhone, what an incredible experience.  Sitting quietly in my living room, I was able to view the virtual stations that were created by Busted Halo.  In addition, a series of suggested videos were generated showing a title and a link became available. Imagine easily having access to a variety of clips related to the Stations of the Cross at your fingertips.

A Parish Youth Group Experience

While visiting Queen of Peace Catholic Community’s Pathfinders Youth Group, I experienced a parish comfortably using technology in prayer with their youth.  Amy Barber, Middle School Youth Minister often uses technology in her sessions.  I came to see for myself how she was doing this.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that she easily adapted what could be an individual prayer experience into a group prayer experience.  How? This parish has the vision of integrating technology into its worship space.

As you view the following slideshow, you will see how these students moved from station to station, first viewing the video and then praying together.  Later I had the opportunity to ask these students what this experience was like for them.  I heard comments like: “The video helps this prayer come alive for me.” “We’re media people, I love this prayer.” “I’ve done this prayer before and we used cards to read from, it was boring.” “I learned a lot today from the videos.”

What I learned from this experience of praying with this youth group, is that media makes sense to them.  It grabs their attention.  The visuals help them understand the story of the Passion and Death of Jesus and also relate it to today’s suffering world.

I witnessed these youth understanding and appreciating a traditional prayer experience offered with a contemporary method.  Of course, as Holy Week approaches, they were encouraged to return to church with their family and friends with their mobile devices, with a QR Reader installed.  I’d love to be a mouse in the corner of this church to see who returns to pray the Stations of the Cross using the Virtual Meditations.

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Of course, if you like this post, I’d love to hear from you.  Perhaps you have a comment or question.  Or, just click the “Like” button.

Photography: Caroline Cerveny (c) 2013

We have a Pope!

I was home today when I received a call from a friend that there was “White Smoke”.

Within seconds I turned on the TV and with the world, I was waiting to be greeted by our new Pope.  As I watched the audience in the square, there were numerous people holding up iPads, cell phones, and digital and video cameras as they recorded the announcement of “Habemus Papam” and the first greeting to the world by our new Pope Francis!

Within minutes, people were tweeting, emailing, blogging and announcing to their family, friends, and colleagues the historical event they were witnessing at this moment.  Of course, the media giants were there as well.  Yet, every one of us today has the capability (if we want) to communicate to our friends and families the top story of the day!  What a wonderful and incredible world we live in!

If you were paying attention to the tweets, you would have noticed that there were tweets from President Barack Obama, Cardinal Dolan, Catholic Sun, John L. Allen, Jr., Father Shane Johnson, CBS News, and everyday folks like you and me.  Regardless of where you were at – in Rome, in the USA, in South America, in Africa or wherever – the whole world was sharing and chatting with one another.

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And this evening (3/13/13) I used Google Images to see what photos I could find about our new Pope.  Of course, these images were downloaded to a variety of locations, and yet within a short period of time, they were e-catalogued and available to the world! Here they are…

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Within minutes, there are photos, comments by others, and more available online for others to view and read.  Even his first remarks are available to the world to go back and read, especially if you missed this historic moment.

pope-remarks

I was especially moved by his reflection–

Now let’s begin this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the church of Rome, which is the one that presides in charity over all the churches — a journey of brotherhood, love and trust among us. Let us pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there be a great brotherhood. I hope this journey of the church that we begin today — and I will be helped by my cardinal vicar, here present — will be fruitful for the evangelization of this so beautiful city. (Pope Francis)

We have the capability today, to be brothers and sisters to one another despite the geographic distances that we often allow to separate us.  We truly can be Digital Disciples, evangelizing one another in ways we have never imagined before!

This LENT: Develop Your Digital Mind

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So, we’re in the middle of Lent.  A few weeks ago we were resolving to take care of _____, give up_____, or donate to _____ during this Lenten season.  These actions are all well and good.  But who amongst us even thought about developing our Digital Minds?

Here we are in the 21st century, where technology surrounds us!  For many years, most of us in ministry have kept technology at an arms length from our ministry.  Over time, we made wise decisions and a computer was purchased for our office.  We may even have purchased a laptop so that we have the flexibility to take our work home.  Overall we have gotten comfortable with word processing, email, spreadsheets, and presentation tools. Some of us are very  proficient with these tools, and others may still need to learn how to leverage these tools in order to be effective and efficient.

However, when I speak of a Digital Mind, I am calling attention to a mind that is engaged in the Digital culture, knows how to speak the ever evolving digital language, and has skills that go beyond the basics of being able to use a computer for email, word processing, presentations, and tracking our program finances.

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This Digital Mind is very comfortable with technology, creatively engaging in using the digital tools for research, online learning, social interaction with others, and more.  This type of person is engaged in exploring how the desktop,  laptop, and now tablets and mobile phones can be an integral part of our ministry lives.

I invite each of you to engage in this conversation with me.  I want to distinguish between the characteristics of a Digital Mind and a Non-Digital Mind.  I am suggesting a list of seven (7) characteristics.  If there are other characteristics that you are aware of, I invite you to participate in this conversation by adding your comment to this blog post.

I would say that you have a Digital Mind, if the following characteristics are evident in your daily ministry:

  1. In a casual conversation with friends, family, or parishioners a question arises that  you are unable to answer, instead of saying that you will get back to them later, you pull out your smart phone or tablet and Google the question. You have an answer within a minute.
  2. Your TO DO list, is on your phone.  In fact, short notes that are your grocery list, and other important things you need to remember are added to your electronic note pad of your mobile tool.
  3. 10 to 15 minutes of your day is spent on FaceBook, casually looking over posts on your parish FB page, or viewing posts from your family, friends, and members of your parish.
  4. In addition, you take 5 or 10 minutes to post a faith-thought on your FB page, or a simple response – click the LIKE button, or comment to other posts. When someone posts on the parish page, that a member of your parish is in the hospital, you are one of the first to offer prayers.  On Sunday, when you see this person in Church, you can engage in a conversation where you are aware that this person has just returned home after a hospital stay.
  5. Instead of killing trees because of the paper you use to distribute a weekly newsletter to your parents, you are comfortable in creating a blog using WordPress or Edublog or any other blog tool for this newsletter.
  6. Your familiarity with Web 2.0 tools has provided you with helpful new ideas to present to your catechists.  You follow Catechesis 2.0 to learn from pastoral technology leaders what tools are available, and how you may use them!  Now many of the student activities are available online, so that others can see the projects and your students are learning how to be a Digital Disciple.  Parents and others can comment and affirm the classwork.
  7. You have a team in the parish who assists you with recording (audio and/or video) your parent sessions, catechist meetings, or other activities so that a podcast or video is available for those who were unable to attend this meeting.

and, where have you exhibited any other characteristic of a Digital mind? If you are not developing your Digital Mind, then you are:

  1. Running to your office library to find the resource you may need to answer the question.  If it is not in your office library, then you are off and running to a library, calling a friend, or just hoping that you find the right resource with the answer.
  2. Many of your notes are on a variety of sizes of paper or notebook.  When you need the note, it is lost, or you’re unable to find your spiral bound tablet, or unable to decipher what you wrote.
  3. You do not believe that FaceBook is a viable way for communicating with your family, friends, or parish community. You avoid it like “the plague.”
  4. Your weekly newsletter:  Of course you use a publishing program to create this wonderful newsletter, email it to your printer, wait a day or two for the UPS package to reach you, distribute to your children, and hope that each child remembers to give it to their parents.
  5. You go to your favorite publisher website, print off a  worksheet, go to the copy machine to make the number of copies that you will need for your students, and distribute to them.  You collect the sheets, and several students have not completed the activity and a few have not returned their worksheet and now you take a few moments to review their work and write comments on their work.  One student “doodled” a cartoon on their worksheet. Next class you return the worksheet and have a conversation with your budding artist!
  6. For those who were unable to attend the parish meetings.  You email each family with a special message about the event, and invite them to meet with you for a special session.  This time, you have 20 families unable to attend the Family First Communion meeting.  As you listen to their stories, you learn that these students are involved in sports and Girl Scouts. Have you thought of doing a webinar with them?

So even in the middle of this Lenten season, it is appropriate to ask – How am I developing my Digital Mind.  Or, do I even want to develop my Digital Mind?

I trust that you see developing your Digital Mind as a wholesome activity, that once developed will provide you with a means to be a Digital Disciple in this ever evolving 21st Century where the New Evangelization is calling us to communicate in new ways, with new tools!

May your stories of HOW you are developing your Digital Mind, be an inspiration for each of us.

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