In November 2010, I had the unique opportunity to serve as the blogger for my congregation’s International Chapter held at our Generalate in Rome. A “chapter” is a special gathering of delegates charged with evaluating the status of the congregation since the last chapter, setting the direction for the future and electing general leadership. The communication goal for the 2010 chapter was to share as much of the experience as possible with the 2200 Sisters of Notre Dame around the world. We had a team that consisted of a website administrator, photographers, videographer, translators and writers. I was the blogger. This was a new experience for me and for my congregation.
At first, the blog was assigned to the section of the chapter website reserved for the sisters. To accommodate the different language groups, our sisters translated all of the material posted to the site into five languages: English, German, Indonesian, Korean and Portuguese. The chapter was in session six days a week. I attended almost every session, took notes and in the evening wrote a 300-500 word recap of the day. There were times when I had to negotiate with leadership regarding what would be shared and when—but I had a pretty free hand. Midway through the chapter, it was decided to move the blog to the public section of the website. “This is an important event in our congregation and we should share it with our colleagues and associates.” This really was a new experience.
Several times during the chapter, I used my little Flip camera to do one-minute interviews with chapter members and support staff. I asked them to share in their own languages what the activities of the previous week had meant to them. I uploaded the videos to YouTube and they were embedded into the blog. These turned out to be a big hit in their home countries.
From time to time, I got emails thanking me for my articles and I heard that the Provincial Secretary of one of our provinces said that she had to print out the blog articles as soon as they were posted as the sisters kept checking throughout the day—“Is there something new yet?”
However, it was not until after the chapter when I went to our German convents that I discovered what the blog and website had meant to our older sisters especially. Chapter had always been an exclusive experience where a few sisters made decisions about our lives. Some sisters had never attended a chapter—they were always left out. This chapter was different—they were included. They knew what was happening, not only from my blog, but from all of the other content that had been uploaded. At each convent, I was applauded, hugged and thanked over and over again. They would point proudly at the binder containing all of my articles. The joy they expressed touched me deeply. I was just a “blogger,” but I had opened a door that had always been closed to them—that realization was very humbling.
I learned a lot from my experience about integrating social media with live events and plan to share some of my insights in future articles—but for today, I just want to say how grateful I am to have seen the power of social media at work in my own congregation—bringing our sisters together in ways we never would have imagined possible in the past. God is good!
How have you been surprised at the impact of social media in your life or ministry?