World Communications Day theme challenges us

Don’t forget that this Sunday is the church’s observance of World Communications Day, a time to reflect on the challenges of spreading the Gospel in the modern world. (The date for the observance is always the Sunday between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost.)

This year’s theme is especially challenging to clerics: “The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: New media at the service of the Word.” As our story when the Vatican released Pope Benedict XVI’s statement for this year’s observance said:

Pope asks priests to get online, spread the Gospel

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a message embracing the evangelizing potential of digital media, Pope Benedict XVI asked priests around the world to use Web sites, videos and blogs as tools of pastoral ministry.

“The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more St. Paul’s exclamation: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel,'” the pope said in his message for the 2010 celebration of World Communications Day. (Full story)

Here’s an excellent video reflection on the theme from one of North America’s foremost priest-communicators, Basilian Father Thomas Thomas Rosica, the CEO of Salt + Light Television, Canada’s national Catholic network. (Hat tip to the Knights of Columbus’ Headline Bistro site, where I found the video.)

And as you consider the challenges of modern communications, don’t forget that we had two other reflections on this blog that are worth your consideration:

— A blog post, Responding to the pope’s challenges on ‘new media,’ by Basilian Father Chris Valka, part of our Year for Priests blog series,  in which he reflects on the pope’s charge to priests and gives an example of how he was able to use a podcast to help answer a high school student’s doubts about God.

— A second post by Father Valka giving his fellow priests (and any of the rest of us who want to listen) some practical ideas and applications for meeting these new media challenges. It’s an excellent primer if you’re looking for ideas on breaking into this new field.

What about you? Any other ideas as we contemplate the pope’s challenge? Feel free to comment below.