One of the things I love most about being a woman religious and more specifically a Sister of Notre Dame is all of the wonderful women with whom I share that vocation. From my earliest recollection of sisters through my years of formation and ministry —I have been constantly amazed at the courage, imagination and ingenuity of sisters in forging new paths and using new methods to proclaim the Good News. This was once again confirmed for me at the Web 2.0 and Social Media Tools workshop our province technology department sponsored for sisters and staff on July 26, 2011.
Our presenter was Sr. Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF, President and Founder of Interactive Connections, a pioneer in the use of technology for faith-based education. Sr. Caroline began the day with an overview of Web 2.0 and demonstrated how this new digital world has its own language and culture, its own methodology for learning and interacting. The people whom we love and serve, especially the younger generations, only know this new world. If we want to be part of their lives we have to learn their language and their culture. As Catholic educators we want to help them to live in this world with faith and integrity. We can’t do that from the sidelines. We have to interact with them over the Internet as well as in person.
The sisters listened intently to the second presentation on various social media tools: Twitter (social networking), Delicious (social bookmarking), Flickr (photo sharing), WordPress (blogs), Animoto (simple video making), Doodle (scheduling meetings), and Wikispaces (project collaboration). You could feel the creativity bubbling up as they began thinking about how they could use these tools in their ministries.
The afternoon began with an overview of Facebook (social networking) and LinkedIn (professional networking) and then the fun began—the sisters got on computers and started clicking away. They created Facebook and LinkedIn profiles or updated and cleaned-up the ones they had started at some point, but not really used. They were creating Animoto videos and setting up accounts on delicious.com. Sr. Caroline and members of our technology team were available to answer questions when they got stuck. The sisters were “on a mission” to enter the digital world and you could see the smiles on their faces when they got it right. So many had stories of family members who had been begging them to get on Facebook to see the photos of the family reunion, the weddings, the new babies—now they could do it.
Some sisters are thinking about blogging—they have wisdom and insights to share. Some want to start discussion groups for their catechists and their RCIA groups. Others want to start classroom or committee wikis. Some plan to join LinkedIn discussion groups in their areas of interest. The possibilities are endless and the sisters are exploring them all. It is so much fun to be one of them.