Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

Digital Ideas for Lent!

Lent is this wonderful opportunity to reflect on various spiritual themes – the Year of Mercy and more! We often give things up.  Yet, I would like to challenge each of my readers to explore how they could “Evangelize” during Lent using any of the digital tools that are on their desktop, laptop, or any of the mobile tools that you have access to.

Why do I challenge you?  I listened to Fr. Frank DeSiano’s Webinar Lent in the Year of Mercy  recently.  And as I listened this slide was important to me –

What digital activities could be suggested?

What digital activities could be suggested?

Why?  Because my mind saw a chart just waiting to be transformed into ideas where we could be Digital Disciples and Evangelizers.  I invite you to “brainstorm” with me about possible options.  For example, I would retitle the slide to: Corporal Works of Mercy – Options for Digital Discipleship.  Then the three headings revised to: (1) Work, (2) Personal Digital Activity, and (3) Church Digital Activity.

As I begin to brainstorm, here are a couple of thoughts flowing through my mind:

(Work)To Feed the hungry  – (Personal Digital Activity) Give up a meal and contribute to the Catholic Relief Services

(Work) To clothe the naked  – (Church Digital Activity) – Create a graphic using Canva that promotes the local shelter with a call to action to bring in new or gently used clothes to give to the shelter.

Pinellas Hope-2

Use Graphic on Facebook or Tweet to your fans

I invite YOU, my wonderful readers, to continue to brainstorm for all us!  If you look at the chart, what do you see as possible options to be a Digital Disciple or Evangelizer?  I ask you to continue the conversation by clicking on the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link towards the bottom of this page.

I look forward to hearing the wonderful suggestions that you will offer this Digital Community!

Learn by Doing: A Lent Challenge!

During this wonderful season of Lent, we are challenging ourselves to any of the following: 40 Things to Give Up for Lent: The List.

These are all wonderful opportunities to develop our Spiritual Selves! And this wonderful season of Lent is a wonderful reminder that it is important to develop our spiritual selves.

Yet, another side to our Lenten practices could be to take time to become more comfortable with our digital skills.  Why? In this 21st century, being a Digital Disciple is very much needed in the ever evolving digital culture that surrounds us. The challenge of being a Digital Disciple is to have the digital skills so that we can communicate and create a message with digital tools, manage the business side of our ministries, or engage our learners of all ages in learning more about their faith via digital experiences.

In the ministry that I am engaged in – training others via Digital Discipleship Boot Camp – I’ve learned that many who participate in our DDBC training often lack the basic technology skills to really be successful in today’s digital world. So, I often wonder – What can I suggest to others that may be FREE or reasonably priced, and is a good learning product?

Recently at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) I discovered the Custom Guide group in the Exhibit Hall..  http://www.customguide.com/.  What immediately caught my eye at the booth was their FREE Cheat Sheets for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

If you want to learn more about these tools, you can easily download FREE Cheat Sheets at their website  or order high quality laminated cheat sheets for your parish staff, catechists, or parish volunteers.

CG-CheatSheetList

More importantly, if you are looking for hands-on experience with engaging, interactive software simulations for Microsoft Office, SharePoint, and more I encourage you to explore the CustomGuide Interactive Training at www.customguide.com. Each tutorial covers a single topic, so you get quick answers to your “how-to” questions. CustomGuide Interactive Training is accessible from your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone—making it possible for you to learn wherever you train best. Their motto is Learn by doing, not watching. “More importantly, it is reasonably priced so that your budget is maintained.

I love the guides, as I keep them at the side of my office computer.  When I need help, I quickly look at the guide and find what I need!

For example, I have forgotten how to insert a screenshot into my Word document.  Under “Drawing and Graphics” I locate the following –

To Insert a Screenshot: Click the Insert tab on the Ribbon and click the Screenshot button in the Illustrations group. Select an available window from the list, or select the Screen Clipping option to take a screen clip.

I easily add the screenshot to my document, and continue writing and creating the document that I am working on.

Overall, I have discovered that Digital Discipleship Boot Camp (DDBC) participants who come with strong skills in using programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are able to apply these skills to their boot camp experience.

If you would like to engage more in “hands on” learning experiences for learning more about integrating technology into your ministry, then come to the DDBC website to check out the summer schedule.  We’d love to welcome you!

 

 

Stations of the Cross

As Holy Week approaches, we will take time to remember the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus through the Stations. Why are the stations part of our prayer? It allows us to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death.

Following is a suggestion to engage your students in preparing to pray the stations in church:

  • Look over the following Stations of the Cross, and determine which one is best used with your students. You can assign ONE station per small group of students or if you have a small group of students, you can assign a couple of stations per group. This is their background information for the station.

Creighton University Ministry Stations
USCCB Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross Especially for Children
Stations of the Cross: A Devotional Guide for Lent and Holy Week

  • After assigning a station to a small group of students, ask them to draw or choose an image that represents the station. Invite them to prepare a short meditation and prayer (one or two sentences) for the station they have been assigned. There are various ways they can create their image from drawing their station on paper and then scanning to an electronic format, or using electronic drawing tools to create their drawing, or simply going over to church to photograph the station that they have been assigned.

(Or you may work with your Youth Ministry group, to have students photograph the Stations of the Cross that are in your parish church and to organize them in a Dropbox folder so that your students will have access to the Station of the Cross images from your church.)

Example of a PPT Station Template

Example of a PPT Station Template

  • Using PowerPoint (You may want to use the suggested template or you may wish to design a template) invite your students to create a PPT slide that represents the Station that they have been asked to prepare and add the image, reflection, and prayer.
Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

  • Save the slide in two formats – 1) the usual PPT format and 2) the JPG format using the “Save As” function and for a File name use the format of Slide # (the number of the Station) so you will have files named Slide 1, Slide 2, Slide 3, etc. For FILE TYPE, choose – JPEG File International Format.
  • Now that you have the slides in a graphic JPEG format that can be used by video tools like Animoto and 30 Hands, you are ready to create a video meditation that can be shared on your parish website. Or once uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, you can share the link with your families on the parish Facebook page or Tweet the link out to the world.

If you are not familiar with the suggested tools, you will find an introduction to these tools at the Catechesis 2.0 blog. Come and visit:

Animoto 
30 Hands

The FREE Animoto will only allow you to create a 30-second video. So, to do a longer video, you will need to purchase either a monthly subscription for $5.00 or an annual subscription for $30. I love this tool and have found that the annual investment is a wise decision. 30 Hands Mobile is a FREE app for those using a smartphone, iPad or tablet computer. Check out the 30 Hands website for additional information.

What is so helpful about this activity is that you are engaging your students in a traditional prayer experience of the church – The Stations of the Cross – by using the technology that they are very comfortable with.

You may also wish to review the following blog pages:
Stations of the Cross and Virtual Journeys, and
Stations of the Cross Multimedia for Lent

Blessings as we prepare to enter into this time of remembering the gift of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus!

© Caroline Cerveny , SSJ-TOSF

Lent Challenges

Credit: Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ

Credit: Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ

Lent is that wonderful season where we do penance!  And what we do as penance will be different for each person.

Those who are immersed in “technology” on a daily basis may decide to retreat from their devices for a period of time as a penance. That’s reasonable!

However, I would encourage all who have digital devices, to determine how they could use their tool to enhance their understanding of Lent  and to be a Digital Disciple.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • VIDEOS – Once a week or once a day, view a video around a Lent theme.  If you join Digital Catechesis (digitalcatechesis.ning.com) – It’s FREE! – You can search the video library to locate videos that others have found inspirational for the Lent Liturgical Season.

An example of a video in this library is A Lenten Meditation.  Take a moment to view it and savor the message.

  • If you discover additional videos that are not included in this video library as you search the You Tube videos, come and ADD them to the Digital Catechesis video library.
  • After you have viewed a video, determine who and how you would like to share it with. If you have a Facebook page, share the link with a short message from you with your FB friends.
  • If you have a Twitter account, prepare a 140 character message, including the video link in a bit.ly format that will share this video with your Twitter followers.
  • USCCB Website – At this website you will locate a “Printable Calendar for Lent.” A daily message is here with references to other sites for additional reflection materials.  You can easily find the daily Lent readings here.  Looking for resources about Lent, just go to the “search” field and type in “Lent.” You will discover some wonderful LENT resources here.

I’m sure there are other ways we can be Digital Disciples with one another during this Lenten Season.  I’d love to hear how you will use technology to be part of enhancing the Lent experience of your family and friends. I invite you to share your experiences by commenting on this blog post.

© Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

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

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.

LENT Online Video Discussions

lent-2

Recently I received a question from Marc Donlin, Chaplain-Mission Associate at St. Cloud Hospital.  I would like in our church to email out a link to a site where I can have a discussion starter using video with my kids, any suggestions?

Marc, what immediately comes to mind is using a blog page to include the video and any reflection or questions that you may have.

Here are 8 steps to keep in mind:

  1. Determine your audience : I’m going to plan a discussion for a group of 7th and 8th graders as a demo.
  2. Determine your Video Theme:  40 Days of Lent
  3. Choose an online video:  If you are a member of Digital Catechesis, go to the Digital Video Library to see if there is a video that fits your discussion theme.  Or, you can search YouTube, Vimeo and other video websites for a video that fits your theme.
  4. Go to your class blog: I’m assuming that you have a class blog that you are using with your students.  (If not – Go to Religion Classroom Blogging to learn more about a class blog)
  5. Draft a short reflection and a question for the blog page.
  6. Create your web page.  For example: LENT
  7. Email the link to your students with a short intro.  (See following suggestion)
  8. Pay attention to the webpage and engage in the conversation.  You will want to participate in the ongoing online conversation with comments, suggestions, or additional questions.

Imagine that these students are sitting right in your classroom and they are adding to the conversation.  Only this time, it is in an online format.  You would not sit in the classroom silently observing.  You would be listening and interjecting your comments and questions at appropriate times.

Email Suggestion

Dear (FName of Student),

Come to this link -(Add Link here)  – for a short video and reflection.  I’m looking forward to engaging in an online discussion with you.

(Your Name)

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