Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘Evangelization’ Category

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.


Christmas Memories with a Slideshow


Christmas is in a few weeks!  For many of us it is family time where we gather to share this season with one another.  Of course, a camera is in hand and you capture your memories in digital photos.

You can use these photos to create an amazing slideshow.  There are four ways that this can be done:

  1. With Animoto.
  2.  You may want to use Microsoft Moviemaker, or
  3. You may create your own music video with PowerPoint! .
  4. If you are a Verizon customer, you now have access to.  Once you download and install Media Manager on your Windows PC (or the MAC version), you can import personal music, photos and videos and display them on FiOS TV through your FiOS TV DVR or HD Set-Top Box.

All you need are your photo’s, your favorite tool, and your own touch of creativity!  If you have slideshow to share, we’d love to hear about it.  Come back and add the link to the comment section.

Here is a sample of a video created with Animoto – Our Christmas Together.

If you like this activity, take a moment to click on the “Like” button.

Copyright 2012 Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

Advent Technology: Preparing for the Lord Jesus!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the opportunity to visit some of our magnificent Duomo’s (Cathedrals/Basilica’s)  in Venice, Florence, and Siena Italy.  I’m back home, and reflecting on this incredible experience after praying in, walking through, and viewing the frescoes,  statues, and more that one discovers in  these incredible medieval structures.

First what comes to mind is how the artists of this medieval period used the technology of this time to express their belief and understanding of Catholic Christianity – primarily reflecting the saints and our Gospel stories.  As I reflect on what I saw, it is very obvious that the Church was a major part of the city – and the story of Christ is told in a variety of images – intended to inspire and nurture the spiritual life of those who were visitors to this church.

Over the next four weeks, we will be preparing for the “great celebration of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus, (‘Christ-Mass’), Christians (Catholics and others) are invited to prepare to ‘get ready’, to make a place for the Lord in our lives and in our homes and to anticipate His coming. Deacon Keith Fournier

As we celebrate this liturgical season of Advent, I invite you to explore how today’s technology can be used to enhance our faith, culture and worship in today’s everyday world.  We are everyday artists with tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social media tools where we can share our getting ready for the Nativity of the Lord with our friends and families.

How will you do this? Stop for a moment and identify your personal digital “city” – your Facebook friends, those who may be following you on Twitter, your LinkedIn contacts, or YouTube friends – the online connections you have.  In this season of Advent, how might you involve them in “getting ready” to make a place for the Lord in our everyday lives?

  • Invite your Facebook friends (and families) to create an Advent Wordle.

  • Tweet an Advent  related video link, image, or a reflection at least once-a-week during this Advent season to those who follow you.  For example:

If you are looking for suggested Advent videos, a FREE membership is available at Digital Catechesis where a Video library of over 450+ online videos are available to you.  Enter “Advent” in the search field to locate the videos for this liturgical season.

  • Form a group on LinkedIn that will be the place for those who are interested in being part of an Advent retreat experience with you.  You will find helpful resources for adult Advent prayer at Ignatian – a Loyola Press service that features Advent Resources.

It is easy to create a LinkedIn group, just click on “Groups-Create a Group” and complete the form.  You now have an online space to engage others in an Advent Retreat experience with you.

I encourage you to use your digital savvy to engage members of your family, friends, or members of your parish in this wonderful season of Advent.  We now have tools to reach a small group or a large group that are easy and fun to use.  It is simply your imagination and being comfortable with these tools that will help you to discover and use them for God’s glory!

If you like this post, please take a moment to click on the “Like” button.  More importantly, would love to hear from you how you are engaging others in this Advent season with online tools.  Come and share your story by clicking on “leave a comment.”

Copyright 2012 Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF


Advent Activities

With Advent around the corner, families and catechists may be looking for an activity or two to engage the children in learning more about Advent!  Here are a few websites that I discovered that you may wish to use:

Advent Activities: OSV offers a checklist to get ready for Advent, Advent and Christmas recipes, crafts and more.

Advent Resources –  Here you will find activities, calendars, inspiration, Jesse Tree, prayers and an online Advent retreat from Loyola Press.

Advent –  A variety of Catholic Digest articles.

Advent: Jesus Is Coming –  The Saint Anthony Messenger Faith formation team offers short and helpful Advent articles here.

Advent Liturgical Season –  At the Wm H. Sadlier website, you get a wonderful Advent liturgical season overview.

Advent Prayer – 4CatholicEducators – com provide you with a collection of Advent links with articles, activities, and Advent Calendars.

How can you use this material? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. If you are communicating with your families through FaceBook, then each week you can choose a link and add it to your wall with a short Advent message.
  2. You may simply want to send an email to your families with a short Advent message and the link you are referring them to.
  3. If your families are “Twitter” followers, you can tweet a short “Twitter”message like – Here’s your checklist – to get ready for Advent.  (Note: This will bring you to – Advent Activities – Preparing for Jesus an Advent Checklist ).

Hope you find these links of interest to you.  Would love to hear how you may be using these links in your catechetical program.

Of course, if this article was helpful, please click the “LIKE” button below.

Copyright 2012 Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

Advent Videos

How will you use videos during this Advent season?  I just checked the Digital Catechesis Video library and I discovered at least 10 Advent videos.  Here’s a sampling of three of the videos in the digital library:

Christ is Coming – This 5 minute advent meditation focuses on the coming of Christ into our world- not just as a child in a stable but as the bringer of justice and freedom.

Advent Conspiracy 2010 – This film uses popular Old Testament Scriptures juxtaposed with modern music and nativity silhouettes to help the audience to see Jesus in their hectic holiday lives.

Advent in Two Minutes – Check out Busted Halo’s two-minute video that describes why we celebrate Advent and wait to celebrate Christmas.

I love this wonderful digital age that we live in.  There are some wonderful resources that are FREE that we could use for our Advent Ministry.  How?  Here are three(3) suggestions:

  1. For the first week of Advent, and every week after that, add an Advent Video Link to your Facebook page/wall and add a reflective comment with a question.
  2. Engage in an Advent sharing with your friends. For example: If you “Tweet”, using 140 characters, tweet an Advent message related to the video and include the link.  Normally, Twitter will shorten the link.  If it does not, you can go to – to shorten your URL.  Here’s an example: Wondering why we celebrate Advent! (Link) Why do you do Advent?
  3. Using your iPad or iPhone with an LCD projector or TV connection, show one of the videos as a prayerful reflection before your class or adult meeting.  Remember to practice before your session to make sure that all is working.  Remember that you’ll need an audio connection.

For those who are not members of Digital Catechesis, you are invited to join (It’s FREE).  If you are a member, and you discover other Advent videos that you would recommend to us, please come and add them to our Digital Library.

If you like these suggestions, please click the “Like” button.  We’d also like to hear your suggestions for using Advent videos.  Do add your comments in the “comment” section of this blog.

Advent Blessings!

Copyright 2012 Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF


What can you do with ONE iPad? ONE iPhone? Any mobile tool?

The other day I gave an iPad 102 workshop to a high school faculty!  Why? Because  next year ALL Saint Petersburg Catholic High School students will be receiving iPads to use for learning.  Incredible!

Well most religious education classrooms will NOT have this opportunity, unless your students will be bringing their own devices – that’s BYOD! And as more and more students receive these items as gifts or save their monies to use towards purchasing mobile tools like an iPad, tablet, smartphone and more, I wondered… – How will our catechists be ready to use these tools with their students? Will they invite their students to use these tools to share FAITH?

I was reading through my email recently and discovered this wonderful article The Positive Side of Social Media  by Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp.  I love the line – I truly believe if the apostles of Christ had access to Face Book, Tweeter, Emailing and Texting they would have utilized it so that they could have reached all corners of the globe to proclaim the Good News of Christ.

I agree, and today we need to become “Digital Disciples!”  If you have an iPad, iPhone, any tablet, any SmartPhone – these are mobile tools – start now!  How?  Here are 5 suggestions:

  1. Most mobile devices have a camera.  When a liturgical religious season is around the corner (e.g., Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter), for an assignment, encourage your students to look around the church for images that they would like to photograph to represent this liturgical season.  When they return to the next class, invite them to talk about the images they have photographed.  Why does this image represent this liturgical season?  What does this liturgical season mean to them?  Then in a prayerful attitude, invite them to send this image with a text to a parent, grandparent, including an inspirational message to their family or friends about the season.
  2. Create a church “Treasure Hunt” where groups are competing to find objects and information. Members of the group can be in different places working on finding objects and information and they will talk to one-another via instant-messaging.  The individuals in the group update each other on their progress using mobile phones.
  3. During Lent, on your iPad or iPhone download the Stations of the Cross app.  If you are using an iPad you can project the graphics and prayer on a screen using an LCD projector. If you only have a TV in your classroom, you will find out how to how to connect an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch to your TV here. You may wish to lead your students in class prayer using several of the stations at the beginning or end of the class.  Invite students who have either an iPhone or an iPad to download the Stations of the Cross app to use throughout Lent for a meditation.
  4. Go to Digital Catechesis – Videos (Membership is FREE) and locate a video meditation. Plan to show it for prayer projecting it via an LCD Projector.  Remember to have audio speakers for the sound.
  5. Want to create a fun quiz for your group that provides instant feedback? Use Google Forms.  Put students in small groups and send the link to them via email or text the link to their smartphone.  You may wish to make it a contest to see which group finishes first and who has the most correct answers.  If you install the script Flubaroo, your quiz will be instantly graded.  Or, you may want to subscribe to Quia Web where you can create quizzes that will provide instant feedback if answered incorrectly.

I encourage you to be creative in sharing the faith with young people using mobile tools.  I’ve learned that when you are able to lead them using the tools that they love to use to learn their faith, they enjoy coming to your class!

If you are willing to TRY a mobile tool in your classroom, click on the “like” button.  Would love to hear how you are using these mobile tools with your students.  Come and share your story!

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF (c) 2012


Teaching Religion in the 21st Century

We are in the midst of re-imagining the methods we use today in the classroom.  When I review a lesson suggestion like I discovered this morning titled “Jesus and Prayer  ” by Mike Amodei, I quickly ask myself, How could I teach this same lesson in ways that our typical Digital Natives could really become engaged with?

Allow me to share how I would restructure this lesson so that it is a “blended” experience of the following:  At home reflection, integration of technology, small group sharing, and maximizing the F2F time in the classroom, and encouraging our students to become Digital Disciples.

Part 1

The week before this lesson, I would email members of the class with a message similar to the following:

Dear (Student Name):

In our next class (add the date) we will focus on the occasions when Jesus prayed.  Using the online New International Bible version, please look up the following Gospel references that provide background on each occasion.

When and How Jesus Prayed

1. Jesus prayed when preparing for something important. (Luke 6:12-13)

2. Jesus offered prayers of praise. (Luke 10:21)

3. Jesus prayed in thanksgiving. (John 11:41-43)

4. Jesus petitioned his Father for many things. (Luke 22:31-32)

5. Jesus prayed from Scripture. (Mark 15:34)

6. Jesus prayed at the time of his Death. (Luke 22:34; 41-42; 46)

After you have read the verses, working in groups (link to a PDF file where the groups are assigned), create a video that summarizes when and how Jesus Prayed.

I am encouraging you to collaborate with one another using Google + Hangouts. Or, you may want to meet over lunch with one another. This way you can plan your script and implement your digital project.

I am suggesting the following tools for creating your video or multimedia project:

  • Animoto – Creates a 30-second video with images, text, and music.
  • VoiceThread – a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam).
  • Vuvox– Use the COLLAGE feature for WYSIWYG online multimedia layout and sharing.

As a team, decide on the tool that will best express the story you want to tell about when and how Jesus Prayed. If you are not familiar with the tools, check out the tutorials that are often included on the website.  You may also want to go to YouTube and search for (Tool Name + Tutorial) for a brief video tutorial about the tool.

If you have any questions, let me know.


(Your Name)

(Instructor Note: This type of project can be used to encourage your students to use technology for faith-based conversations. A skill we want our students to have in this 21st Century. If students are reluctant to use email, then have the material ready to distribute to them on a handout.)

Part 2

Three days before the class, text or twitter the following to all of your students:

Jesus Teaches about Prayer – summarize and rate – the readings about prayer.

Note to catechists:  Using an online survey tool (e.g., (Quia – survey; Survey Monkey) you can convert the questions into an online survey form.  (Here is an example ( ).

Part 3

For the class, you may want to consider the following:

  1. Welcome the class and make a few comments about the theme “Jesus and Prayer”
  2. Invite students to share their video reflection with the class about “When and How Jesus Prayed”.  (Note – there will be 3,4, 5, or more videos depending on how you structured the size of your small groups.)
  3. Have the summary of the survey responses ready to share with your students (You could show via a LCD projector or you may want to print out a summary of the responses to share with the students)
  4. Depending on the responses, you can discuss as a class why students feel that the prayer is – 1—very difficult; 2—difficult; 3—somewhat difficult; 4—no problem at all.
  5.  You may wish to have other questions ready, depending on the responses from the students.

Part 4:

Note after the class is completed, you may wish to do the following:

  • Add the project links to the class Facebook Group Page
  • Include the project links in the Class blog.
  • Invite your students to share their group projects with their FB friends, and add a faith-based message.

This is an example of how this lesson could be re-worked using the tools that our students have easy access to.

Of course, it may happen that a student does not have Internet access at home.  Here is where you encourage them to work on these projects via the school or local library.  They may even have a good class friend where they can work at their home with the home assignment part of the class.

More importantly, I’m assuming that you are teaching in a 21st Century Style classroom, where you are able to bring your laptop or tablet and have easy access to the following: Internet, LCD Projector, Screen, and Speakers.  If not, you do not have access to these tools, it is time to start advocating for them.  After all, we are now living in the 21st Century!  In addition, you have Acceptable Use Policies in place and mentor your students in being good Digital Citizens.

Would love to hear how you might adapt this lesson so that it is a blended approach fitting of the 21st Century.  If you feel that this is a good example of 21st Century teaching,  please do click on the “Like” button.

The Year of Faith


On October 11, 2012 we will formally begin the Year of Faith.  Why?  This date marks the opening  of Vatican Council II – 11 October 1962.  As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary, it is a good time to reflect on our faith and the meaning of New Evangelization.

If you’ve not heard about the USCCB Leadership Institute, I would encourage you to visit this website.  Here you will find…

An exciting new series of webinars focused on the “New Evangelization”. The webinar topics and presenters were approved by the Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis and the Bishop Chair of the Bishops Committee on Catholic Education. Once posted, participants will be able to access the webinars online. Live Q&A sessions with a presenter panel will be held three times during the year.

The first of the webinar series is “The New Evangelization: Implications for the Church Today” led by Very Reverend James A Wehrner, STD.

As I listened to the presentation, I became aware that in understanding “Evangelization” – what is important is that we are about “Proclaiming the Gospel” to those who have not heard the Gospel, those who have heard the story and need to be nourished day by day, and of course to be in the midst of ecumenical endeavors.

So, how do we evangelize and proclaim the Gospel with new media?  As I listen to each presenter, that is the question that will be in the back of my mind.

After listening to the New Evangelization presentation, I began wondering how Facebook could be used as a new media option for evangelizing others. On February 17, 2012, Melissa Fach posted an InfoGraphic of 2012 Facebook Stats.  When you look at the USA states – 50.3% of our population is using Facebook as a tool to communicate with others.  Many of our Catholic members use Facebook as a social networking tool.

But how can we evangelize with this tool?

FaceBook Stories

A story that I discovered last Fall in Facebook Stories was about a wife of a Protestant Minister who recognized a neighbor’s name on Facebook and began a conversation with him.  It turned out that he was a non-practicing Catholic.  Over several months, she just carried on an informal conversation with him about his family and work.  And then one day she asked – Are you going to any Church?  His response was “no.”

She then invited him to her husband’s Church.  Of course she shared the church website with him and told him more about who they are as a faith community.  A few weeks later, her neighbor friend attends a Sunday Service and begins his journey of belonging to this faith community.

Many of our neighbors are no longer practicing Catholics.  And it appears that there is a 50-50 chance that they are using Facebook.  If you connect with them using this tool, are you willing to be one to carry on the conversation that perhaps may result in their returning to the Catholic faith?

Other examples of how Facebook is being used by Catholic individuals, groups, and organizations are the following:

The Living Water Community posts a daily reflection.

Nativity Catholic Church , has a Facebook group were both parish and non-parish members can ask questions and share what is happening at their church with one another.

The Joliet Diocesan Religious Education Office is using an Information page for ministry in the Diocese of Joliet for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education and Adult Faith Formation.

James Martin, SJ  – I’m a Jesuit priest, culture editor of America magazine and author of the books “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything,” “My Life with the Saints,” “Becoming Who You Are” and “A Jesuit Off-Broadway.”

These are just a few examples of how Facebook is being used to share faith with one another using new media. Facebook can be used in this whole process of New Evangelization.  I’m sure that there are many more examples out there.  Would love to hear your story!  How about sharing your story in the comments section of this blog!  Would love to hear from you.

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