Congratulations 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.