By Dennis Sadowski
KRAKOW, Poland — To reach young people, Father Michel Remery believes you’ve got to go to where they are.
Today that means using social media.
Father Remery, a priest of the Diocese of Rotterdam, Netherlands, and vice secretary-general of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, has developed Tweeting With God. It started with a book and has evolved to include social media.
The Tweeting With God project — online at www.tweetingwithgod.com, @TweetingwGOD on Twitter and an app (search using TwGOD) — offers insight into the Catholic faith in brief messages with links to more details. It was developed in response to the questions young people have about the Catholic Church and its teachings.
“If you have these questions, it’s something you feel yourself. It’s an expression of your search for God,” Father Remery said.
But Tweeting With God is not just for the young; anyone might find useful the dozens of topics: the Bible, the church today, personal prayer, forms of prayer, liturgy, sacraments, the Eucharist, vocations and sexuality, to name some.
The project evolved when Father Remery ministered to young people in parishes in Rotterdam. The more questions that were raised, Father Emery realized that there was a need for basic information about Catholic teaching.
The material is designed to be used in small settings in parishes. Discussions always begin with prayer to lay a strong foundation with God, Father Remery said.
“(Our faith) needs to be carried with our own bond with Jesus and then we can carry it on to others and carry it on with words people can understand,” he said.
Adapting church teaching to social media is a natural development, the Dutch priest reasoned.
“We need to go where people are. That our task as the church. We have always done that. We went to the market square to preach. Now we have the online platforms as well as the offline platforms,” he said.
The effort is supported by a team of young people around the world who field questions and post material online.
Elina Severijnen, 24, who is studying development and humanitarian relief and currently working in Singapore, is a member of the team. She said she has seen young people in particular drawn to the Catholic faith because they better understand the church and its teachings.
“If you cannot go anywhere with your questions you might be discouraged. That would be a shame,” Severijnen said.
“What I noticed this week at (World Youth Day) talking with people my age is that they get a lot of questions from friends as well,” she continued. “It’s not just their own questions, but other people are very critical these days. With you being Catholic you get questions. They’re not always asked nicely, but you always want to give people an answer.
“In that sense the project can be a good help. You want to be able to give people a good answer and explain what it means to you,” Severijnen said.
“Tweeting With God” originally was published in Dutch and has been translated into Polish for World Youth Day in addition to English, Romanian, Czech, Slovenian, Korean. Ukrainian and Spanish. French and Italian translations are on the way.
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