Diocesan Technology Day–A Sign of Hope

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on January 21, 2014

in Online Presence, parish, Pope Francis, technology

DOY TechnologyCongratulations to the Diocese of Youngstown for their day-long conference focused on Technology for the New Evangelization. The event took place on Thursday, January 16, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 at St. Michael Family Life Center in Canfield, Ohio. It was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Youngstown IT Department, Office of Religious Education, Council for Catechesis and Our Sunday Visitor Offertory Solutions.

Bishop George Murry, the Bishop of Youngstown, opened the day with a prayer and a strong personal endorsement for using technology, websites and social media to advance the mission of the Church and to reach out to those who are no longer with us as well as those who are seeking a faith home.

I was pleased to give the keynote on Websites and Social Media: Tools for the New Evangelization. I stressed that evangelizing websites and social media can only come from evangelizing communities. A good way to measure the evangelizing focus of a parish is to examine how it ministers to visitors, new comers and inactive Catholics including through its web presence. I encouraged the participants to look at their websites from the perspective of an outsider and ask: Based on the look and messages of this website, would I want to visit or join this parish? Many websites focus on insider information only and fail to recognize that many people who come to a website are not looking for more to do, but for ways to connect with the faith community and the faith. Which leads us to ask: How do we welcome others and share our faith on websites and social media?

The rest of the day was dedicated to workshops following four tracks based on the ministries of priests, parish ministers, parish staff and social media outreach. The participants were energized, enthusiastic and eager to learn ways of using technology and social media to be more effective ministers.

A local reporter from WKBN27 interviewed Matthew Pecchia, Diocesan Director of IT, and Sister Lu Haidnick of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Aurora and me and produced a good summary of the day. Click here to watch the video.

A diocesan day like this is a very positive sign of the Church’s commitment to bring the gospel to the people of our times. It encourages the flexibility and adaptability of parishes in their efforts to be nearer to the people and completely mission-oriented, two qualities called for by Pope Francis in the Joy of the Gospel no. 28.

If your diocese offers a day like this, please tell us about it.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Sister Pat Sylvester, SND January 21, 2014 at 8:01 am

Susan, you were the perfect keynote speaker for this type of event.
I am hoping a similar conferences can happen in other dioceses. They would be like “wild fires” in interconnecting and spreading the Good News. Thanks for sharing and for your weekly blogs.

Dion January 21, 2014 at 8:27 am

I just read your blog and viewed the video. CONGRATULATIONS! I am so proud of us. You are really helping our Church BE where we are called to be. Thank you for ALL your good work. I love your blogs.

Maureen Rotramel January 21, 2014 at 9:23 am

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee just finished their fourth annual “Gigs, Geeks and God” day of workshops focused on various aspects of using technology in the parish. This years event happened on January 9th and was a great success for the DREs, Youth Ministers, priests, deacons, business managers, parish secretaries, catechists, teachers, committee members and others who attended. To see some of the resources presented, go to http://www.johnpaul2center.org/G3.htm

Tony Krisak January 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

Glad to see how instrumental you remain in bringing people, dioceses, and parishes into the modern age.

Cindee January 21, 2014 at 11:29 am

Sr. Susan – We enjoyed having you here. Thanks for the keynote presentation and helping set a course for the day. A few photos were posted on Facebook (“Youngstown-Youth Young-Adults”). Participants truly enjoyed it….and now to spread the Gospel in new ways!

Christella Alvarez January 21, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Congratulations to the Diocese of Youngstown for taking the time to educate their people as well as embrace “technology” as a means for the New Evangelization. Congrats to Sr. Susan for leading us and challenging us to use the tools of the 21 century to bring to Good News to others.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND January 22, 2014 at 8:28 am

Thanks for the affirmations, everyone. Cindee, thanks for the photos. And Maureen, thanks for sharing what the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is doing. That is really impressive!

Sr. Mary Ann McFadden January 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I was happily surprised to see your reference to and summary of our workshop last week. I participated and really found it helpful. Your opening words were inspiring and thought-provoking. Thanks for all you do, Susan.

Jim Devlin January 24, 2014 at 9:40 am

Sr. Susan, I was there in Canfield and was inspired by both you and Bishop Murry! You hit the nail head with your thought that if we are not personal in our outreach, it doesn’t matter how good our web presence is. As Bishop Murry noted, the New Evangelization is about us going outside the church physically, psychologically, and technologically. Just one way won’t do. It was a wonderful day!

Tom Sauline February 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Sr. Susan, I enjoyed your keynote presentation. Since I am not a digital native, I appreciated your encouragement to keep experimenting with new technologies. As you noted, no one is going to die if I make a technology mistake. You reassured me that as professional lay ecclesial minister, I have a bounty of faith formation “content” to share digitally. Thank you.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND February 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Thank you for sharing that, Tom. It is a point that I try to make whenever I can. Those of us in ministry have a lot to share. We also know our people. Technology is best used when we have quality content and know our audience. Keep experimenting.

Jim McGovern March 11, 2014 at 11:22 pm

We must accept that Catholics have been poor communicators of Christ’s message, but we can change. The Anglican Church in Toronto, Canada arranged to have their clergy attend Saturday computer classes at one of our community colleges. Smart move. Would be a good idea to plan how the parishes can use mobile devices to reach, teach and preach. Another area needing help is preaching. Bless your work.

Jim McGovern http://www.comeaside.com

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