To thrive, and not merely survive in the years ahead, parishes will respond to the spiritual hungers of people who inhabit a world of technology. In the emerging digital landscape, pastoral leaders can take inspiration from such innovators as St. Paul and Bishop Fulton Sheen who used the technologies of the day in order to convey the Good News. Thriving parishes will offer spiritual content, connect with people and engage parishioners in the mission of the parish through whichever technology.
There are many questions regarding the various types of technology and cost/benefit for each. The conventional approach to creating a parish presence online is a website, but a website is not the same thing as a web strategy. It is always advisable to be clear about strategy before investing in
technology, since technology is merely the tool to accomplish parish
objectives. Some parishes find that a combination of e-newsletters, a blog, YouTube channel and Facebook pages works as well as a website given their objectives.
The larger issues today include managing multiple platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, as well as email marketing, interactivity, mobile access as well as generating quality content. One service that promises to help parishes in the Year of Faith to blend platforms and provide Catholic media is Flocknote:
Consider other popular media resources:
According to the latest Catholic Media Use Study conducted by Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in 2011, twice as many Catholic adults are on social networks as attend weekly Mass (50% have an online profile where only about 24% attend Mass weekly). The new connectors for church participation are online. More importantly, Pope Benedict (www.pope2you.net) assures us that Jesus wants us online. Going out and meeting people where they are at, was part of the genius of Jesus’ approach to connecting and engaging with people. He met people in the workplace, the marketplace, and at the synagogue - wells and watering holes of life. Today the watering hole is online. We work there. We shop there. We socialize there. We seek entertainment there. Presence on the web is no longer an option and a website is no longer enough. Your parish needs a web strategy.
Because a parish website is the new front door, today a parish web strategy is the way we plan for making a good impression, welcome newcomers and provide hospitality in the new religious landscape. It is through this digital landscape that newcomers will most likely visit your parish first. Depending what they experience, they may come back, visit in person or they may never return. Consider the attention that you give to welcoming people online. Is your homepage attractive, welcoming, comfortable, engaging or exciting? Would a visitor want to know more about you from what they see there? Read more on developing your web strategy. Consider ways to create a digital space that is safe.
Many parishes have websites and Facebook pages which link to independent sites which are resource-rich. Consider the follow possibilities:
Pope2You - The Pope has a YouTube Site with current and archive footage with Catholics around the globe.
For Your Marriage is the USCCB sponsored web resource center for married Catholics.
Busted Halo is a web portal with all things spiritual and Catholic that caters to a young, tech-savvy audience.
American Catholic (sponsored by St. Anthony Messenger Press)
Faith Formation Learning Exchange (resources in family faith development for all ages)
God Tube (media-savvy Christians getting out the Word)
My Catholic Voice (online place to connect, explore and share)
The Vatican (news from universal church and teaching documents)
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (National Catholic leadership resources and teaching)
Catholics Come Home (media campaign to reach inactive Catholics)
Popular News (RSS Feeds) and Social Networks:
Catholic News Service (top news and movie reviews)
Zenit (the world seen from Rome)
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Diocese of Buffalo Twitter
Diocese of Buffalo Facebook
The Catholic Exchange Inside the Vatican
Our Daily Bread is promoted as a 1/2 hour cooking show which brings a Catholic presence to the secular TV markets in the eight counties of Western New York, and Southern Ontario. It is hosted by Fr. Paul D. Seil, Our Daily Bread who follows Jesus' example by inviting people into his kitchen and sharing food, fellowship and faith.
Much more than an ordinary secular cooking show, Our Daily Bread seeks to fulfill a significant part of the Church's mission to evangelize by drawing people together over simple recipes to discuss significant matters in human experience. While fostering gospel values in our society Daybreak TV Productions, which produces Our Daily Bread, promotes the dignity of the human person, and a respect for the gift of life, which is found in the simply profound and the profoundly simple.
John Paul II wrote in an Encyclical Letter, "Every person has the right to hear the 'Good News' of the God who reveals and gives himself in Christ, so that each one can live out in its fullness his or her proper calling."
Our Daily Bread, uses television as an evangelization tool aimed at all of humanity. Our Daily Bread is committed to evangelization efforts, which uses the best of what modern technology can offer; committed to new evangelization - "new in methods, new in expression and new in ador." (John Paul II, Ecclesia, in America, 9).
The program posts YouTube videos as well. The following is a popular outtake episode:
Faith Moments 2012
“The world is a noisy place and in our busy lives it’s not always easy to be still…..take some time for yourself, stop into a church or place of worship to pray and contemplate in the quiet and peaceful surroundings.” Thus began the inaugural series of daily vignettes spoken by the Catholic clergy and lay alumni of Christ the King Seminary on various topics that relate to the daily lives of Western New Yorkers. “Faith Moments” was recently launched by the Seminary to provide a morning lift to commuters as they head for work.
The series started with Reverend Monsignor Paul Burkard of Our Lady of Victory Basilica voicing faith-based messages about “finding peace” in a fast-paced society. Each day has a different thought with insights to get the faithful and - perhaps, the disenfranchised - to be energized by and guided by their faith.
“We are the Catholic Church giving the message within the context of our faith, but we’re doing it for ALL people, not just our Catholic congregations,” explained Fr. Peter Drilling, President-Rector at the Diocese of Buffalo’s Christ the King Seminary, “This is one way for us to reach out to people of all faiths, and even of none." There’s a real need to help those afflicted by the stresses and strains of the 21st Century, and ‘Faith Moments’ will help them”.
Faith Moments will be aired on WBEN Radio 930/FM 107.7 Monday-Wednesday at 7:44 AM every week in 2012.
The program is being made possible through a grant from the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
The series of audio messages is also available on the website www.faithmomentsonline.org.
For more information on how to use technology for evangelization contact:
Office of Parish Life
795 Main St.
Buffalo, NY 14203