Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The Role of the Catechist in the Age of Google & Alternative Facts

Today we are surrounded by digital information that is created by a variety of organizations and individuals.  In a matter of seconds a search finds thousands of possible resources related to the topic we are searching for.

As mobile tools, become an integral part of our daily lives and the ability to find out almost anything if we have Internet access, causes me to ask – am I able to find the best Catholic information online or will I also find “fake” information related to my faith?

If you are engaged in any of the following tasks, you will need to find the best possible Catholic information that resides on the Internet:

  • A student who has been assigned the task of explaining the History of the Sacrament of Baptism or any topic to be researched!
  • RCIA catechist who will be explaining the history of Baptism to RCIA candidates
  • A catechist who is involved with Parents who will be baptizing their child and preparing a parent lesson.
  • A child, teenager, or adult curious about the History of the Sacrament of Baptism

Steps to Review Internet Articles

To begin, you are invited to sit down at your computer and go to the “Google” website.  Begin your search with the phrase“Sacrament of Baptism.” A variety of options are usually presented…

I’m delighted to see “Sacrament of Baptism History” as an option. Choose this topic or you can just type in the Google search field “Sacrament of Baptism History” as you begin your search.

 

As you see in a few seconds’ numerous articles are located for you. Your next task is to figure out what are the “best” articles related to the topic of your search.  Normally, the first 20 articles are the options you want to begin with.  For this article, we’ll work with the first six articles asking three simple questions:

  1. Is this a Catholic website? If yes, is it sponsored by the Vatican, the USCCB, a Diocese, a Parish, a Catholic Publisher, a Catholic University, or by an individual who is writing this article.
  2. What do you know about the writer? Name, who do they represent – Vatican, Diocese, Parish, Catholic Publisher, Catholic University – Theology Department, Self? What degrees do they have? Who are they associated with?
  3. Is the information current, dated or biased?

Answering the Questions

It is usually helpful to create a table that identifies – Article – Organization/Individual – Writer Info – Date of Article. As I ask the three questions, here is what I learn about each webpage:

Article Catholic Org or Indv Writer Info Date
Catechism of Catholic Church – Baptism Vatican Vatican 1993
Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation Catholic Education Resource Center Fr. John Hardon, SJ – Biography – http://www.hardonsj.org/biography/ The Catholic Faith 4, no. 4 (July/August 1998): 5-11.
Sacrament of Baptism Catholic Doors Jonn Miller No Date Listed
History of Baptism – Wikipedia Wikipedia Wikipedia Contributors See “Cite this Page
Baptism Catholic Encyclopedia – New Advent This article was transcribed for New Advent by Charles Sweeney, S.J. 1907
The Sacrament of Baptism Holy Trinity Catholic Church Holy Trinity Catholic Church – Probably prepared and written by a staff member No Date Listed

 

Deciding What to Read and Study

Just asking these three questions, and after identifying the responses to the questions I would choose three articles to begin my research and learning.

Catechism of the Catholic Church – Baptism:  This is a Vatican sponsored article and is part of the newest Catechism.  A good resource to study.

The Holy Trinity parish article: Why?  It is written for a parish audience to quickly and simply explain to them information about the Sacrament. After reading the Catechism article, I would be comparing the Catechism content with this article to see how this article clearly articulates what has been approved by the Vatican. Despite no date or specific author listed, this is a current Catholic parish in the Shreveport Diocese.  While reading the article, references to the CCC are made which indicates that this is a current article, most likely prepared by a parish staff member.

Baptism – New Advent: Since we are focusing on the History of the Sacrament of Baptism, this article was approved by bishops in 1907.  It would provide an explanation of the sacrament at this historical time.  Since I read the two more current articles, I will be trying to identify what is the same or different between the Catechism Article (1993) and the Catholic Encyclopedia article (1907) regarding the history of the sacrament of Baptism. This article will contextualize for me how the Church understood the Sacrament of Baptism before Vatican II.

An article I would read to understand what seems to be an article that would be more supportive of pre-Vatican II theology is:

Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation – Why? This is a resource that is supported by a group in Canada.  Their goal is wonderful – your online source for the best in Catholic faith and culture.  However, as I view the information about the “Executive and Advisory Boards” there are flags for me.  The phrases that cause me to pause are:

  • Professor Emeritus – indicates for me someone who is academically astute, but may have a more traditional mindset that may not support Vatican II theology. These members represent – English and Humanities, School of Education, Christianity & Culture Program, Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy.
  • Organizations that are known to support Pre-Vatican II Theology: Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ignatius Press, and Catholic Answers.
  • Author “Fr. Hardon, SJ who is known in Catholic circles to be more of a traditionalist who was critical of Vatican II theology.

It is important to know and be aware of both sides of the equation in today’s church.  The audience who arrives on your doorstep comes from a rainbow of theological experience.  As a teacher/learner it is important to respect the rainbow of colors in a parish.  Our call is not to engage our communities in fighting one another regarding who is right and who is wrong.  Our call is to engage our faith communities in a dialogue so that both sides grow in understanding and welcoming one another.

I would not recommend or read the following two articles:

Sacrament of Baptism – Catholic Doors.  Overall the design of this content is not very appealing as it is all text based.  On closer examination to see who is sponsoring the website, I found the following – The Catholic Doors Ministry is owned and managed by Jonn Miller. This ministry is a response to Pope John-Paul II’s appeal that the West is in need of re-evangelization.

There is no additional information about Jonn Miller.  There is this statement – Catholic Doors Ministry operates from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Even after googling “Jonn Miller saskatoon saskatchewan Canada” or “Jonn Miller Catholic Doors Ministry” I did not find any significant information Jonn, specifically a short bio or any additional information about this person.

History of Baptism – Wikipedia.  In general I, do not recommend Wikipedia articles as I will always want to compare and contrast with recognizable other sources the content of their material especially related to faith based articles.  Why?  My personal bias is that a website with faith and theological content needs to be reviewed by theologians (academic or practical) who are recognized for their expertise.  In general, Wikipedia articles are written and edited by those who sign up with Wikipedia.  There is no vetting process to acknowledge that we are receiving good theology in these articles.  And even if approved, by fact that this is a wiki tool, anyone can come and add information at any time that may or may not be accurate.  When I check the “Cite This Page” I notice that the Author is listed as “Wikipedia Contributors.”  I have no idea who these contributors are as they are not listed.  Thus, there is no way to learn more about these authors.

The Challenge of Digital Faith Research

Gone are the days when there are only ONE or TWO resources to read.  Today’s digital world is a library of articles written by a variety of writers who have and do not have a theological background. Our task is to find the best articles to assist us in learning more about our faith.

As I ask questions about my faith – Who is Jesus? Where did he live? What is the Bible? How do I study the Bible online? And many other questions, it is possible to ask Google or any other Search Engine to assist us in learning more about our faith.

Photo by Steve Snodgrass (CC)

However, the task is now on us to locate and find the information that will truly enlighten us!  We need to admit that today we live in a church with a rainbow of theologies: Pre-Vatican II, Vatican II, and Post Vatican II.  This rainbow of theologies is represented in the articles we find on the Internet.

I particpated on February 6, 2017 at a Listening Session where our new Bishop Gregory Parkes, invited parish members to share their insights around three questions.  As I listened to the shared comments representing the 500 persons attending this event, I heard statements that reflected the rainbow of theologies that currently exist in our church.

Because we are simple human beings, we will gravitate towards our personal bias and expect others to believe like us.  It is time to respect and learn from one another.  We all have a bit of the truth that we are invited to learn from one another.

It is not time to “push” our beliefs onto others.  It is time to engage in a conversation or dialogue that allows me to grow in a deeper relationship with Jesus.

As you engage in Internet research to learn more about your faith, come with clear questions you are using to guide you in picking your resources.  Take the time you need to “discern” and “choose” the best articles to read and reflect on that will engage you in becoming a faith-filled Catholic!

Remember it is not what you know about your faith!  It is about knowing and coming to a deeper relationship with Jesus!

Tell A Gospel Story

KidsSpace is a website sponsored by the Toronto Public Library. One of the helpful tools is a way to engage children in telling a story. After I played with the tool, here is a suggestion for you to use in a children’s faith formation class.

The tool to use is Tell-A-Story StoryBuilder.

I would invite children to use this tool at home to retell an assigned Gospel story using the images and creativity of the children. Perhaps this could be the Gospel story for a given Sunday. Once the story is completed and approved by you, it can be used in various ways.

Suggested Steps:

  • Assign a Gospel story to read, for example – The Beatitudes story in Matthew 5: 1-10 (You may want to refer the children to the Superbook Bible for the text or they can use a Bible that is at home.
  • Invite students to use Tell-A-Story StoryBuilder to tell the story using the various tools that are available: backgrounds, characters, etc. They get to choose a setting and characters for the story to make it a unique story that they tell.
  • Once the story is created, tell them to click the [Send] button. A box will appear asking for who they are going to send the story to and for their name and email address. If they are working at home, ask them to invite their parents to view the story before they forward to you. Tell the child that they are to ask their parents to insert a parent email with the child’s name.

beat-1 beat-3

  • Once they have completed sending the story to you, they will see a box that says “SUCCESS! The card…”. Click on OK.

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  • Check your email

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  • Once you have a link, click on the link and you will have access to the story. Click on the green arrow in the right-hand corner to page through the story.

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  • Here is an example of a story for you. Click here.

Would love to hear your stories of how you may be engaging your children/youth in retelling the Gospel stories that so gift our daily lives. Blessings all!

How can WE REDEEM Technology?

iPhone-4

As I read Tim Elmore’s blog post “Technology is not the enemy as long as we redeem it” I resonated with a comment he made…

Technology isn’t going away—so we’re going to have to find ways to redeem it.

So, let’s ask the question – What skill sets of our youth can we develop so that they become digital disciples who meaningfully share faith with their technology skills?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how to redeem technology.  Here are suggestions that I offer you to begin the conversation.

  • For Kinder thru Grade 3: At the beginning of the year, invite your parents to follow the @SaintOfTheDay Twitter account. Encourage your students, at least once during the week, to ask their parents, what the saint of the day is and to have their parents share the story of the saint with their son or daughter.  Why do this?  Children will observe their parents finding online information that they will be able to share with them and share what they learn that day with their child.
  • Grades 4 – 6: Using your iPhone or Tablet, go to @SaintOfTheDay and read the saint reflection for the day.  Invite your students to write a Tweet message (Refer to – What is a Twitter Tweet?) which will share what they learned about the saint of the day.  A Tweet example – April 24 who is the saint nicknamed the “poor man’s lawyer”? (Note: This tweet is only 60 characters).
  • Grades 7 & 8: Form teams and assign each team to a designated week of the class sessions. Invite the teams to review the @SaintOfTheDay tweets that are available during that week.  Ask the students to write one or two tweets that will communicate what they have learned about a few of the saints from that week. To be in a form where fellow students will reply with the saints name.

For example – Week of April 19-25: (Tweet #1) He was a theologian, archbishop and opposed the slave trade – Who is he? (72 characters) and (Tweet #2) Once buried in Gniezno cathedral (Poland) his relics were moved to St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. Who is he? (108 characters)

Answer #1 – St. Anselm; Answer #2 – St. Adalbert of Prague

How are you considering bringing your children and families to become a digital disciple?

Four Suggestions to Celebrate the Feastday of St. Francis of Assisi

StFrancis-3

Thanks to a St. Francis Day greeting from a wonderful Franciscan friend, I was reminded that the feast of St. Francis of Assisi is just around the corner. Then I thought, I’d love to do a post about this wonderful feast/saint. Of course, the big question – about what?

I quickly browsed the Digital Catechesis Video Library, and discovered that there were several St. Francis videos in this wonderful video library. Just search for “Francis” you will locate them quickly. Yes, there are many more on YouTube, but I did not want to spend hours searching through videos on YouTube that I would have to watch carefully to make sure that they were good and interesting videos. Here I could find videos that had been used by other ministers who recommended them because they found them to be inspiring, in just a few minutes!

So, what can you DO with these videos? Here are four suggestions:

  1. Send an email with a video link to your parents highlighting this wonderful feast of St. Francis and encourage them to watch the video with their children and then share what they know about St. Francis with each other.
  2. If you are working with RCIA candidates, you may wish to create a blog page about the Saint and then invited your candidates to share their thoughts, reflections, or questions about the saint. When they come for their next RCIA session, you could continue the conversation about St. Francis with the group at the beginning of class – perhaps in a prayer moment.
  3. If you have a Twitter account, “tweet” a link to your followers with a question that they can easily respond to in 140 characters.
  4. On your Facebook page, add a link with the video to your page. Write a short reflection and ask a question so that your “friends” can share a comment or two about what St. Francis means to them.

Following are several videos that focus on St. Francis.

I would love to hear from you how you may be using social media to engage your students, families, youth, and young adults in celebrating the feast of this wonderful saint.  Being a Franciscan, this is one of my favorite feast days!

(C) 2013, Cerveny

This LENT: Develop Your Digital Mind

digitalminds-2

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.

digitalminds-3

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.

An Advent Wordle Prayer Experience

For those who are interested in integrating technology into one of their Advent lessons by involving the family, you may wish to do the following:

  1. Direct your families and/or students to Advent Prayers and invite them to pick a prayer.  (Note: Here are other prayer links – Children Pray: Advent and Christmas or A Prayer for Lighting the Advent Wreath.
  2. As a family, invite all to pray this prayer together.
  3. Go back and highlight and copy the text of the prayer that was just prayed.
  4. Then go to WORDLE.
  5. Click on “Create Your …” link or the “Create” tab.
  6. Paste the text into the “Paste in a bunch of text” space.
  7. Then click on “Go”.
  8. Your screen will look something like….

If you like the word arrangement as it is great!  If not, you can adjust text, colors or word arrangement by clicking on menu bar text “Font”, “Layout”, or “Color”.  When you like your arrangement, then do a and paste into MS Paint or any other graphic program you may have to create a *.jpg file. You may want to crop your image so that you are just showing the Wordle!

Here are examples of how you can adjust your Wordle Design

Once the JPEG file is created, then you could invite your students to do the following:

  1. Ask them to email the graphic to you.  Once you have the files you can add them to your class website or create a collage of Wordle Prayers.
  2. Add the images to a class prayer PowerPoint.  With an Advent song playing in the background show the Wordle Prayer images.  Invite your students to identify ONE word on each slide that stands out for them.  You may want to have a worksheet for them.
  3. Then ask the students to create a SHORT Advent prayer using any five words they have identified.

For example:  Advent, Jesus, longing, brother, darkness

Brief prayer – Jesus this Advent we are experiencing darkness, we are longing for you to be our brother.

If you are not sure how to do the “tech” part of this prayer experience, remember that many of your high school students are very comfortable with these tools, you may want to ask one of the high school students to work with you to create the PPT, or add the images to the class website, or whatever else you may want to do. Remember, they love to be your coach so that you can learn how to use these technology tools.

If you have other ways that you are planning on using Wordle with your students during this Advent season, we’d love to hear about them.  If this was helpful to you, please click the “Like” button.

Copyright 2012 Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

 

Retelling the Christmas Story

Parents, are you looking for a way to engage your children to tell the story of the Birth of Jesus?  Well, here is a wonderful tool (and it’s FREE) that you can use with your children – Little Bird Tales.  Very easy to use!

When you are on the LIttle Birds website, click on the LittleBirdTales.Com Demo Video (that looks like the following image) for a quick overview of how to use this website.

Little Bird Tales

In three easy steps –

your child can create their Christmas story and share with members of their family.

All you need – imagination, drawing tools and paper, microphone, and a digital camera (a cellphone camera works)!  Check out the public stories that you find in the PUBLIC TALES tab.  One that caught my interest is an Easter Story.   Here is a wonderful example of a child telling their story.  Sorry – it’s Easter, not Christmas!

Here’s an opportunity where you can visit the crèche at your church after Mass and have your child use the camera to capture images of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  Once they have their photo’s they can come back home and use them to tell the story about the Birth of Jesus which they heard in their class, or you read the story to them, or – who knows where they heard the story. Here’s the chance for them to pass on this wonderful story to others!

Now is the time to encourage them to tell the story in their own words and with their own creativity!  What better way to have them engaged in one of the great stories of our Christian tradition.

DRE’s and others who are involved in your parish catechetical/religious education programs.  You may wish to send this link to your parents, or add the link to your parish website, or use this link in any way to encourage your parents to involve their children in telling the Christmas story.  When the children have completed this Digital Storytelling, they can email the link to others in their families!  What about to grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins who live in other cities?

Hope you enjoy and have fun with this activity!  Would love for folks to come back to this post to share the links of the stories that have been created.

Remember, if you like this post, click on the “Like” button!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

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