Social media can be your friend

Image of Pope Benedict XVI on Vatican website as seen on iPod Touch. (CNS photo from Reuters)

Facebook, Twitter, podcasts and blogs are nothing to be afraid of, speakers told participants Nov. 12 at an overflow workshop at the annual convention of the National Council of Catholic Women.

The group of women and a few priests at the workshop in the Renaissance Hotel in Washington were urged to get on board with new social media as a way to evangelize and more effectively communicate especially with young people.

The speakers, Jeff Young and Lisa Hendey, certainly practice what they preach since they both have careers that use the social media tools to spread a Catholic message.

Young is a social media consultant who also produces a podcast and blog called the Catholic Foodie, which highlights food and faith. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com,  a website launched in 1999 that focuses on faith, parenting and family life. She also heads a home-based web design business and is webmaster for her parish website, St. Anthony of Padua in Fresno, Calif.

Emphasizing that today’s online tools can help people fulfill the Gospel mandate to spread the good news, the speakers urged participants to go home after the convention and branch out online and to consult a teenager in the family if they ran into any trouble.

5 Responses

  1. Carol, thanks so very much for your coverage of the NCCW event, and particularly our talk on reaching out to future leaders of our Church with new forms of communications. To clarify my point on calling in teenagers, I meant to state that frequently, we “older” generations may be less familiar with tools like Facebook and Twitter than our younger counterparts. A grandmother looking to become active in social networking might enjoy spending the afternoon with her grandson, who could show her how to get started, recommend helpful tools, and point her to some of the features on these sites.

    We did also point out numerous times during the talk that — in line with the USCCB’s recently published guidelines on Social Media — those actively using social media tools in a parish or organization must always be operating within the confines of Safe Environment regulations when involving anyone under age in the usage, and also when connecting with fellow parishioners or organization members online. For more explicit information on these guidelines, readers may want to check http://www.usccb.org/comm/social-media-guidelines.shtml and as always operate within the policies of their local dioceses, parishes and organizations.

    The NCCW convention was an amazing convocation of Catholic women who are excited about spreading their faith in both traditional ways, and in new ways too. Thanks for helping us to spread the word about ways in which we Catholics can help spread the good news with these latest tools.

  2. Also I wanted to point readers interested in this topic to today’s press release from the USSCB on this topic:
    http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2010/10-210.shtml

  3. If you swap out “printing press” for “new media,” you can get a sense of how insular and archaic this makes the Church appear.

  4. SO encouraged that the U.S. Church will benefit from a social media-savvy archbishop this year!

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1004695.htm

    Archibishop Dolan’s blog has long been a favorite: http://blog.archny.org/

    So maybe his tenure will actually serve to drag the Church back to where the people are to be found.

  5. I think that this is an interesting, but natural, occurrence in the Church. With such large organizations wishing to reach mass audiences, there is no better tool to aid with this than social networking, and Facebook specifically. Speaking as a college student, the best way to contact me is either through email or Facebook. As my generation grows up, this will become even more widespread, and the earlier that Catholic organizations jump on the bandwagon and the quicker that the adult leaders learn the technology, the easier it will be to spread their message and stay in close touch with the followers in the long run.

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