Be Neighborly: Pastoral Ministry in the Digital Age Part 4

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on October 10, 2017

in Online Presence, social media, website

The fourth challenge that comes to Pastoral Ministry in this digital age according to Antonio Spadaro, SJ, in his book, Friending God: Social Media, Spirituality and Community is to be neighborly rather than spreaders of propaganda (Page 65).

My Reflection

Being neighborly is as far away as you can get from being a propagandist. I love that Fr. Spadaro, used this contrast to make this point about Pastoral Ministry.

According to the online Encyclopedia Britannica:

Propaganda, is the dissemination of information—facts, arguments, rumors, half-truths, or lies—to influence public opinion. Propaganda is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or actions by means of symbols (words, gestures, banners, monuments, music, clothing, insignia, hairstyles, designs on coins and postage stamps, and so forth). Deliberateness and a relatively heavy emphasis on manipulation distinguish propaganda from casual conversation or the free and easy exchange of ideas.

Neighborliness is not anything like propaganda. Neighborliness is an attitude of care, respect and thoughtfulness of the other; lending a hand when needed. It is genuine. Its agenda is the good of the other. Pope Francis says it this way in the Joy of the Gospel:

An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others…. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance. #24

Pastoral ministry is not about manipulating people to do what we think they should do, it is about loving them as they as are and helping them where they are.

When we approach both our offline and online ministries as neighbors, the words we use, the actions we do, the images we post, all convey love, concern and joy for the wellbeing of the other.

If we approach all of our communications with the spirit of neighborliness, we will have a truly fruitful pastoral ministry.


How “neighborly” is our website?

How “neighborly” is our Facebook Page?

If our online presence is neither neighborly nor propaganda, what is it?

Pat Wolf October 10, 2017 at 6:15 am

Our website more informative than either neighborly or propaganda. It delivers facts. Neighborly is a friendly, kind and helpful way to communicate those facts. Propaganda is a way to spread ideas and often the ideas are false or misleading on purpose. A neighborly and informative site is surely the way to go.