Sisters Learn Social Media Tools for Communication and Ministry

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on July 27, 2011

in religious communities, Sisters of Notre Dame, social media, Uncategorized

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 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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Sister Maraian Coughlin, SND July 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

This was truly a lift in some insight into what is happening and where we are going to have to place much energy. I only hope that our youth will come someday to appreciate the simple life. The openness to allowing others to respond is most interesting. Now I know, too, that I do not have to know all of the various “names” to make use of them.

Sr. Carol Dikovitsky July 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

Thank you for a very informative day, Susan. I learned a whole new vocabulary, and so much new information about social media. As a member of the new provincial leadership team, I was particularly struck by the concepts of ‘participation,” “transparency” and “sharing” that the new social media enable. So we will see where they take us! Thanks again, Carol

Carol Ziegler July 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

Sister Caroline offered a comprehensive and engaging consideration of the power of social networking. Her practical, hands – on approach inspired in all the participants a sense that they could be involved in social networking in meaningful ways.

The Notre Dame Provincial Center Technology Team served as a supportive arm during the presentation. Kudos to all. I see many possiiblities for application in my work as Chief Mission Officer at the College.

mary james July 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

A very informative workshop and wonderful people to help with any task. It is exciting to see all the possibilities for this media. Thanks so much!

Sr. Dion Horrigan July 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

The day was absolutely wonderful. “Seeing the Possible…Liberating Potential” is the tagline of our new general administration. That tagline describes the day. It introduced me/us to new ways of “seeing.” “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” (can’t recall who said this)…

I felt I was given new ways of seeing and being…that have tremendous potential especially for mission and ministry. I recalled a few words from our congregational documents about how we, Sisters of Notre Dame, “do mission” –
– we collaborate and network to advance the reign of God
– we are called to invest our individual and communal resources in carrying hope to the dark places in our lives and in our world.
– we use technology for mission to expand our ability to connect with one another, enhance our ministries, reach youth more effectively and advocate for important issues.

I left this day with a whole new sense of empowerment for mission. I am so grateful. Thank you to you, Susan, and to all who prepared this day for us.

Diane Friederich Kledzik July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

This is just awesome! I am learning all these things, too, as I am taking a Summer Institutue for Technology in Ministry with Sr. Caroline and Claudia McIvor in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. May we all learn to speak the language of digital natives so that we can better work in building the kingdom!

Sr. Virginia Turner July 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I agree with all the comments shared above. I couldn’t say it any better! Our (SND) future in teachnology is looking very bright! Thank you very much, Susan, for providing us with this opportunity!

Sister Pat Sylvester July 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I am sorry to have missed this day. I know I would have
been enriched and informed by all of the information/inspiration given. I can only hope i can catch up some how. Thanks so much for offering this for us and continuing to educate and update the community.

Marilou Strathern July 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Thank you so much, Sister Susan and Sister Caroline,
Always excited to learn something new. I was especially impressed to see so many Sisters partaking and engaged… a good sign of their eagerness to always expand.
An excellent job in every aspect. So thankful I was given the opportunity to particpate.
Blessings, Marilou

Sr. Chetana July 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thank you Sr. Susan for arranging this technology workshop for us. It was an informative workshop for the digital immigrants to effectively integrate social media in our ministries in this era of Information Technology. It was like nuns’ day out to the Internet world particularly to discover social networking sites.
Thank you

Sr. Mary Ann McFadden July 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I’ve been to several other computer/internet workshops, but this one was “the best” — I was really happy to see so many sisters there. I also was inspired about the WHY of learning to use the internet: so we can be more effective in our ministry, especially with the younger people. I was on Facebook before, but I didn’t do much with it; had no focus. Now, I’m eager to get a bit more involved.
Thanks to all who put this workshop on.

Sr. Dolores Mikula, SND July 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Gracias, Susan and Caroline, from one of many of us who are already using social media, but want to use it more effectively for mission! I found the workshop very helpful…and because of it have many more questions for our tech folks. I will use what I am learning with the folks I minister to and with in Nicaragua (e.g., video link church youth groups in the U.S. and Nicaragua); use it to keep in better communication with Sisters, family, friends and collaborators-in-mission around the world (e.g., work on improving my blog – ); and use it to improve the lives of women and children, especially the young women I work with (e.g., I want to study how to use cell phones for mobile learning in a developing nation; I learned at the workshop that this is the thesis of one our sisters!). That last discovery alone made the workshop immensely valuable- thank you!

Hugh Macken July 28, 2011 at 3:30 am


It is wonderful to see that the Sisters of Notre Dame are embracing social media and willing to go boldly where no women religious have gone before! 🙂

That said, I wanted to encourage you in your journey by taking this opportunity to invite each of you to join the discussions currently taking place in the newly formed Association of Catholics Exploring Social Media.

The mission of the Association, of which I am a co-founder, is to provide an online forum for Catholic leaders to explore the prudent use of new social media in the New Evangelization. Our Linkedin group currently numbers over 110 members. Please feel free to join us on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin! We would welcome with open arms your experiences, questions, and comments relating to what you and others in the Church are doing to make effective use of new media in the New Evangelization.

Hugh Macken
Association of Catholics Exploring Social Media

Angela Santana August 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

This is wonderful news. We need more consecrated persons engaged in New Media! Thank you for sharing, Sister Susan.

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