In less than three months, the Catholic Year of Faith will begin. With his Apostolic Letter last fall, Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared that a “Year of Faith” will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013, the Feast of Christ the King. October 11, 2012, is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and also the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism to deepen their knowledge of the faith and give greater witness to it. The main ecclesial event during the Year of Faith will be the thirteenth General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops, on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” to be held October 7-28. It is during the Synod that the Year of Faith will begin.
The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization has launched a website for the Year of Faith and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers resources for the Year of Faith on their website.
The question, I have for you, my readers, is how can we integrate the use of social media into the celebration of this year and give greater witness to the gift of faith? If we want to do this well, we need to be making plans now.
I asked the same question of the LinkedIn discussion group, Association of Catholics Exploring Social Media, and here is the response from Joreen Kelly, Director of Worship/Social Media at St. Catherine Laboure in Harrisburg, PA.
At Saint Catherine Laboure we realized last year that using social media as part of an overall catechesis in advance of the New Roman Missal changes resulted in a parish that welcomed and embraced the changes. Everywhere I went people came up to me to talk about it. They were excited about it. We published information and materials online and in print form in the back of the church, broke it down and taught the new prayers and music before every Mass for several weeks before the changes actually took place and the transition went very smoothly.
With the Year of Faith approaching, we’re going to build on the success of that strategy. The parish staff has read and discussed the literature from the USCCB as a team, decided on our plan and programs, and the time line for implementation. I’ve already published a little introduction in the July eNewsletter. Father explained a bit about it as well as announcing our Adult Continuing Religious Education in the bulletin and in his blog. Our Facebook page communicates our daily messages to hundreds of people a day, and we’ve found that our parish activities are better attended by both parishioners and others who have seen the posts.
Social media will fail if it’s used by itself. To be an effective tool for evangelization t has to be part of a coordinated effort to reach as many people as possible by as many means as possible.
Congratulations to Joreen and her parish for collaboratively preparing for the Year of Faith and for using multiple channels to educate and witness to the faith.
If you have made preparations to integrate social media in the way your organization/ministry will celebrate the Year of Faith, please share them with us in the comments below.