Deficiency in Technology: One of the “Failings of the Church”

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on November 7, 2011

in Catholic, ministry, Uncategorized, website

In his October 6, 2011, column for the The Evangelist, the official publication of the diocese of Albany, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard discussed seven failings of the Church which he believes have contributed to the alienation of Catholics from the Church. One of those failings is what he calls a “deficiency in technology.”

Bishop Hubbard refers to two sources in his comments about this deficiency: Larry D. Rosen, author of Rewired and Rev. James Martin, SJ, culture editor of America. With Rosen he points out that teens and young adults are immersed in the digital culture. He also points out that many people—not only the young are communicating and getting their news and information on social networks like Facebook, blogs and websites rather than from the traditional news media. Unfortunately, according to Martin “many Catholic sites, both diocesan and parish, are un-imaginative, difficult to navigate, full of dead links and look like they have not been redesigned in the past decade.”

Bishop Hubbard implies in his comments on the deficiency of technology as well as in his comments on the other failings of the Church (clergy sexual abuse, parish closures, anemic parish life, pastoral insensitivity, poor preaching/liturgies, exploiting and failing to accept the marginalized in society) a failure to embrace and carry out the Church’s evangelizing mission.

I wish to comment explicitly about evangelization and technology. Technology is a tool for mission. Our mission is to bring the person and teachings of Jesus Christ into every element of our society. Technology gives us the ability to reach into homes, offices, cafes, and now through mobile devices—streets, beaches, you name it—almost everywhere in a way that was never possible before. But I wonder when I hear about the resistance to use technology for ministry whether it is really a resistance to “go out” to all the people.  We know the reasons that are given: not enough time, money or interest on the part of people in ministry to use technology. Are those really the reasons? I believe if we embraced our evangelizing mission, we would find the money, time and interest to use technology much more effectively to share our faith than we are now. What do you think?

Thanks to Dan Horan, OFM, who brought Bishop Hubbard’s article to my attention through his blog, Dating God.




{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen Spillane SND November 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Way to go! I think that Bishop Hubbard said it very well when he spoke of the value and importance of the use of technology in the Church.

Marc Cardaronella November 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Wow, it’s like a landslide now. So many bishops are jumping in recognizing the potential of this and saying we have to correct this deficiency. Very interesting!

Thanks for posting.

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF November 9, 2011 at 11:30 am

One of the major reasons for missing the mark – we are not training our ministers on how to integrate technology into their ministry! Where is solid training happening? Anywhere?

Kirste Moline November 10, 2011 at 9:23 am

Thank you for the great food for thought. I always enjoy your articles. In my personal experience, resistance seems to come from one of two places:

1) A lack of understanding of technology and/or personal skill (as well as a lack of available, inexpensive training that is specific to our mission) on the part of those who are in charge of our Faith Formation, Religious Education and other programs; and

2) A genuine concern that technology will eliminate the face to face interaction that is so important to connecting people with one another. People fear that we will lose what little connection we found in the physical building if we embrace digital connections. I often find myself explaining that rich virtual connections can yield rich face to face connections, and that technology gives us the gift reaching out to those who might never step foot in our door, but I do understand their concerns.

We live in challenging times, but the Internet always provides us with an unprecedented tool. Like any tool, it can be used to build up or to destroy. I often pray for guidance on how to best use the tools we have in our parish.

Dave Pipitone November 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Kirste has a valid point: the myth that online interaction will replace personal face-to-face interaction.

I read a very interesting book, Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, by Daniel Burrus and John David Mann. The mega trends of technology – low cost data storage, higher bandwidth, more memory – all support more online engagement. Yet, in their book, the authors stress the need for higher tech, higher touch will continue to grow. There will be more of a need for personal one-on-one relationships that involve the touch of personal presence.

IMHO, the Church offers the potential and hope for love in both arenas – to complement each other, not one method of communication displacing the other.

Jim McGovern December 22, 2011 at 8:51 am

Another problem is religious content. If you are a well read Catholic with a degree in theology (STB) and other degrees, and are in good standing, few clergy will encourage their parishoners to go to your site. Their argument is ” you may be teaching error .”

“From a mailout to approx. 100 bishops in Canada and the US, I received 4 rplies to my promotion of our Catholic prayer site. No parishes links to our site, although we get over 10,000 hits a month + blogs, with donations nearly zero. Money has never been a motive… God has been very generous to me. Try to rmember pleasing Jesus is what is really important.

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