Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Catholic Church’

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.

pope-twitter-1

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…

popefrancis-1

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!

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!

The Times – They are a Changing!

This wonderful term “New Media” – what do we do with it?  The world around us is changing.  And as this world changes, we need to begin to explore who we will bring on board to assist us in our parishes and dioceses so that we can integrate these wonderful digital tools into evangelization, catechesis, and communication ministries.

Photo of Thomas Sanjurjo

Thomas Sanjurjo

I’d like to introduce you to Thomas Sanjurjo, who recently joined the team/staff at Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon, Florida.  What is important to note, is that he is their first Electronic Outreach Director.  I met him recently at a Sunday liturgy.  After Mass we chatted in the parish hall over coffee.  I left the conversation with Tom with a sense that this parish portrays a model of what it means to be an emerging 21st Century Parish.

Nativity Catholic Church

Why is he important to this parish?  We are now in the midst of an ever evolving Digital Culture that has its own language and tools.  Many of us often feel that we are strangers on the edge observing a world that is both exciting and terrifying.

If I were a missionary in a foreign land, initially I would feel intimidated by not knowing the new language or culture.  Even though I would desire to share the Gospel with others, they would not understand me.  I might possibly offend them, not knowing how important it is to only shake hands at our first meeting instead of giving a warm hug.

Missionaries today are trained in both the language and culture of the country and people they will serve. By the time they arrive in their new and foreign land, they already speak the language and know the fine points of what is acceptable or not in the culture.

So, if we stop to think about the Digital Culture surrounding us. It is a new language and a new culture!  Who is teaching us the language and the ways of this ever evolving culture?

Yes, a professional like an Electronic Outreach Director will not only do ministry via the parish website, Facebook page and more, he/she will also be responsible for training the staff and even parishioners.  After all this Digital Culture affects all of us!  This parish now has an in residence mentor whose job it is to be involved in electronic outreach.

Tom’s description offers an excellent model of a 21st Century minister who is focused on being a Digital Disciple.  He is to be a catalyst in his parish to bring others onboard with being 21st Century ministers and parishioners.  He shared this model of what he is currently doing in the parish:

Electronic Outreach Director Model

Yes, he will be responsible for the daily feeds and updates of the parish FaceBook page, developing and coordinating the parish blog, uploading the Sunday homily to Sunday Mass Podcast, and training his staff and parishioners, and more.  His ministry is just beginning.  It will be a delight to hear more about his ministry in the future.

I’m sure that there are other positions being created at the parish or diocesan level.  If you are aware of these new positions, I invite you take a moment to introduce us to the new position and who is serving in this role.  Let’s share in how we are becoming a 21st Century church!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Encountering a Virtual Mystagogy

Welcome to our guest blogger, Carmen Cayon!

Carmen Cayon

Carmen Cayon

This year I began a new position as Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization. As I gathered the RCIA team I introduced our blog site; Incarnation Catholic RCIA as a tool we could use to better communicate with each other and with our catechumens.

Our Core Team consists of “Digital Immigrants” and the challenge: how to sell these catechists on the value of a blog site. As I reflected on this challenge, I realized that I am part of the problem. I allow my own fears and bias’ to affect the way I think about blogs. Therefore, part of my work has to be to surround myself with digital natives, those whose way of thinking is not impacted by the same fears that I hold for the new frontier our Holy Father calls the “digital continent”.

Areas that I believe our RCIA blog will help our parish:

  • Fosters friendships through continuing dialogue
  • Cultivates a sense of community by getting to know each other’s needs better
  • Provides a way to communicate our mission as Catholics through continuing catechesis
  • Inspires us with the “big picture” by providing a place to post and dialogue about how God communicates his love for us through visible signs.
  • Deepens the Catholic identity experience through links to other valid Catholic sites

 

Being around “Digital Natives” helps me see that the digital continent can be holy ground. We must confront our fears, assess our own biases, and learn from those who have an openness and flexibility toward a new way of being there for one another.

Am I suggesting that we throw out the old ways of communicating; ie, physically gathering each week, emails, sending cards or notes in the mail….absolutely not! Most of our RCIA participants are used to the new way of being community – they “Skype” with their peers regularly, use their cell phones for everything from checking the time to sending instant images of a moment in their day. For this generation, their world is much more interactive that mine was. As noted by Bishop Ron Herzog, USCCB Communication Committee, in his address to the Catholic Bishops at the November 2010 Assembly, “We have to be enculturated. It’s more than just learning how to create a Facebook account. It’s learning how to think, live and embrace life on the Digital Continent.”

This is a new kind of evangelization that our Church is calling us to, we must not ignore it!

RCIA Core Team

RCIA Core Team

Carmen Cayon is the Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization at Incarnation Catholic Church, Tampa, Florida.

Next Week – Online Collaboration & Communication Tools

Photo Credit: Photography by Cayon (c) 2010.

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