Social Media is Where We Minister

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on October 23, 2012

in Catholic, ministry, social media, website

On last week’s blog, “The Year of Faith on the Internet—a Slow Start, ” I asked readers to share their online resources for the Year of Faith. Several readers were kind enough to post websites (mostly diocesan) that listed resources and events related to the Year of Faith.

Jean Soto, a faculty member at the Tepeyac Institute in El Paso, Texas, raised this question:

Glad to hear that resources are popping up. But, and this is a big But: Are there any really interactive sites? Where can the Faithful give their input and ask their questions? People want to be heard, they need virtual communities that can listen. …

Here are some interactive faith-based sites that I have found.

Father Robert Barron is the rector of Mundelein Seminary near Chicago and founder of Word On Fire  an interactive website. He wrote a chapter in Brandon Vogt’s book The Church and New Media addressing the potential of using social media to reach the unchurched (including a number of former Catholics). He explains how his engagement especially with those who comment on his YouTube videos have taught him much about the spiritual needs, hopes and desires of people—even when they may be negative. His engagement with these people has even brought some of them to the fullness of faith. He is a good example of what we need.

Fr. James Martin, SJ, author and contributing editor at America has a very active Facebook page and Fr. Dan Horan, OFM, author and speaker, has a blog called Dating God. They both write about culture, faith, life and ministry in the Church. Not everyone agrees with what they write. Fr. Martin, often reminds his readers that comments are to be civil (even Christian), but he does not stop taking them, although he does not publish those that fail to meet that simple guideline..

Lisa Hendey publishes the writing of many talented people on her website CatholicMom.com; Marc Cardaronella challenges readers to put on an evangelizing attitude in catechesis and spirituality at his website/blog ; Meredith Gould blogs at Church Social Media  and hosts #ChSocM (ch-sock-em) a Twitter-based ecumenical chat about using social media to build church and faith every Tuesday at 9:00 PM ET. Brandon Vogt blogs on theology, spirituality, technology, and social-justice. All of these sites accept comments and questions and respond when needed.

The opportunity to dialogue on topics of faith on the Internet is extremely important to people today as Jean points out in her question. More ministry communities, institutions, organizations, dioceses and parishes need to surface individuals who have the ability to communicate our faith and faith perspectives on blogs and social media sites and are willing to engage their readers. We need to encourage them to get online.

Are you blogging or using social media for mission? Please give us your url. Do you know any other sites that we should let people know about? Please share them here.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Cardaronella October 23, 2012 at 10:54 am

Thanks for the mention Sr. Susan!

The most creative thing I’ve seen so far is a Video Catechism being released over the Year of Faith by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia. This is a very creative new media effort that presents the Catechism in a series of well-done, compelling videos for youth. Here’s the link: http://www.vcat.org/

The first one is out now. It’s based on the poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” This will be a great resource for years to come.

Jean Ponder Soto October 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Dear Sr. Susan,
Thank you for the great list of resources! I have another question for you and for others:
What do you think is the best interactive venue for ministry around the theme of the Year of Faith? A blog, Facebook page, a 2.0 website–or any others?
Peace, Jean Soto

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND October 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Hi Jean,
The choice of platform depends on the audience you wish to address, the type of interaction you want to have with them, and the type of content you want to deliver. In most cases you will want to use more than one platform as people’s preferences vary. However, the website will be the central player if you have enough content to support it.
I, too, am interested in hearing what others have to say about this question.
Sr. Susan

Lisa Hendey October 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Thanks so much for the mention! We’re really just getting started, which I think is also the case in many parishes. I’ve done more speaking about the Year of Faith in the past month, but we still need to really hit our stride on the website… Also, interesting discussion somewhat related to this at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lisahendey/2012/10/are-the-synod-year-of-faith-just-inside-baseball/

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