Our Social Media Response to Violence and Tragedies

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on July 19, 2016

in Facebook, ministry, social media, Twitter

PrayforPeace candle-1069189 I have used the hashtags #NoMoreViolence #PrayforPeace too many times in the past few weeks.  It seems we cannot go more than a few days before we are confronted with another terrorist attack, killings and more recently attacks on our police officers.

Social media is a place where we can publicly offer our prayers and support and express our solidarity with the victims. It is where we can join with a chorus of others calling for peace and #NoMoreViolence.

There is no doubt that we are praying for the victims and for an end to violence, but we can also express our love and concern for the victims publicly.  These are times when we can call each other to prayer and advocate justice and peace for all people; when we can comfort the sorrowing.  When our followers see these posts, they are comforted in knowing that their community feels the same sorrow they do. Clicking Like or sharing the Post is one way they can express their own love and compassion. Let’s create that opportunity for them.

When an event like the deaths of the three officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, July 17, occurs, we need to respond quickly on social media. When the news media is “all over” the story–we can minister on social media.  Here are two posts that I created on Sunday, one for Parish Facebook Pages that I support and and one for my own Twitter account.

My Facebook Post:

Pray for Police on Facebook


My Twitter Post:

It took about an 90 minutes to create these.  I found the image on Pixabay; looked for Prayers for Police Officers on the Internet, but ended up writing my own; put the image and the prayer together using Canva; wrote the descriptions and then posted them.  Yes, it was work and unexpected time spent–but where else would I have the opportunity to make this call to prayer and express the community’s compassion to several thousand people so quickly after the tragedy?

By using the hashtags #PrayforPeace and #NoMoreViolence in the posts, I indexed them with other posts containing the same hashtags.  The hashtags become hyperlinks and anyone clicking on them or searching for them–will find the posts which used them. It is good for us to be found on these lists–it shows that we care for all people not just ourselves.

Does your community respond to national and world tragedies on social media?   Tell us your experience.



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy Holmes July 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

Your communiques are timely and helpful, but if we take the message of Jesus to heart, should we not also pray for the perpetrators of violence? Peace and all good to you in your ministry.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND July 19, 2016 at 9:52 am

Our first prayers will always go to the innocent victims and their loved ones and all those impacted by the violence. That does not preclude prayers for the repentance of those who carry it out and a change of heart for those who plan to repeat it. That’s what #PrayforPeace and #NoMoreViolence mean.

Patricia J Spicuzza July 19, 2016 at 10:51 am

Hi Sister,
You bring up a good question- one that I had been thinking since our own Orlando shootings. I appreciate that you are sharing the creative work on which you spent time developing. I do think a unique response is called for, to remind us of the need for perseverance in prayer. I hope we don’t need another one for a long while.

Therese M Boucher July 19, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Thanks for the reminder. We did a blog post about laments at http://www.catholicevangelizer.com/. Then later added a facebook prayer entry at Holy Spirit Calling. My concern is the trauma suffered by the general population –especially the infirm and elderly who are TV dependent.

Cynthia Bates July 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm

After the recent police shootings here in Dallas, I quickly learned the importance of producing graphics that were relevant to reporting the crisis and supporting the community. Here’s a couple of additional tips to the ones offered by Sr. Susan:

– Search on Flickr.com to find high-resolution skyline images of a city affected by a crisis to use for the foundations of a graphic. Make sure to switch the license in the search from “Any license” to “Modifications allowed”, which will narrow the search to Creative Commons licensed images with permission to modify images before redistribution. Make sure to credit the photographer if required by the CC license

– If you are a nonprofit, you can get a free Canva for Work account which offers more features than a basic account. You can apply for that nonprofit account here, and the approval process typically takes 3-5 days: https://about.canva.com/canva-for-nonprofits/

– Find quotes of prominent people who have posted responses to the crisis, and use those as graphics. I saw multiple entities make great quote graphics out of the things that our Bishop said in response to the shootings, and those graphics inspired me to create one for the diocese Facebook page that was shared over 3K times on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DallasCath/photos/a.227356697290921.75563.197466746946583/1502596723100239/?type=3&theater

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND July 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Thanks for your comment, Therese. Your article and post help people process these tragedies. Your concern for those who are TV dependent is very valid.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND July 21, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Thanks, Cynthia. These are good additions to my post. Your graphic is beautiful! No wonder it was shared so many times!!

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