What Do Seminarians Need to Learn about Social Media Ministry?

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on May 14, 2013

in ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, social media

To-priests-in-particularAt the end of June, I will be giving a half-day presentation to seminarians from St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia on Social Media for the Center for the Study of Church Management, Villanova University. These seminarians are in their acolyte year, which they spend interning in parishes. The program takes place one day a week for 6 weeks. The other topics to be covered are: Spirituality of Administration, Civil Law, Church Security, Pastoral Planning, Human Resources, Leadership, and Parish Budgeting. The whole program is impressive. I am delighted that the seminary and the Center included Social Media. I do not want to overstate how significant that is, but I might call it groundbreaking.

You may wonder why seminarians need to learn about social media ministry. Didn’t they grow up with Facebook and Twitter? They probably did, but as I have mentioned before, those who have grown up with social media know how to use the Internet and social media for research, games, entertainment and socializing. Ministry uses these tools differently and it is important to know the difference in order to be effective.

Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 Message on World Communications Day was entitled The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word. The entire document exhorts priest to use the new technologies for the spread of the Gospel. He wrote:

Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word….

…Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord.

To help in my preparation, I am asking you to tell me: what you think priests should know about social media ministry and its place in parish life; how they can use it for good and how they can foster its use by their staff and volunteers.  If you know priests who are blogging or using other social media effectively in their parishes, please list them and the links to their sites below. If you know priests who can speak to the topic, please invite their comments as well. Feel free to email me directly [swolf at catholicwebsolutions.com]. Thank you in advance for your input and your prayers for God’s blessing on this effort.

To learn more about Villannova’s Center for the Study of Church Management, click here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Father Bill Muench May 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Hi, Sister – I am a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg – for many years, I have written a weekly column for our diocesan newspaper, the North Country Catholic – then a few years ago – I began to send out an email meditation – for each weekend – I gathered a few addresses from the parish – and from other sources – and have enjoyed my contact with them – it turns out them several on my list have forwarded my message each week also – then a few years ago – I decided to send out a message every day in Lent and Advent – it began as more of a mortification for myself – but many have found it useful – it has been a most enjoyable effort – I now use Constant Contact – they offer many good templates and such – it has been a most enjoyable effort on my part.

By the way, I make a sincere effort to direct my readers to be part of their own parish – and be involved there.

Sr. Marilyn Marie Ellerbrock May 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I am familiar with the way in which Father Dave Nuss uses social media and other technologies in ministry: facebook, web site reflections, and a weekly radio program. The parish site is littleflowertoledo.org.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND May 15, 2013 at 7:14 am

Thanks, Fr.Bill, for sharing your effort and experience. Giving ourselves to others even via Constant Contact has its rewards.

Have you ever considered starting a blog and posting your meditations there? You could reach an even larger audience who could comment for all to see and share your meditations via social media. Give it some thought.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND May 15, 2013 at 7:15 am

Thanks, Sr. Marilyn Marie, I will look up Fr. Nuss on the web. Have a good day!

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