Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It's All About Evangelization

Today a group of 25 or so parish and diocesan staff came together at St. Joseph's in Penfield to learn together and share their experiences with using social media. This can be a challenge for many of us, far from what we have been trained to do in Church ministry. But this was a special group of lay ministers who came together with a common purpose: to evangelize!

Coming together from a variety of parish settings -- small rural parishes, clustering communities, large suburban Churches, and urban ministries -- everyone has the same mission to invite people to enter more deeply into relationship with Jesus Christ. Used right, to quote Pope Francis, social media is a "gift" allowing us to reach those who do not come to Church and those who do.

While we did not come up with the ultimate parish plan for using social media, we took away some key learnings:

  • As social media ministers, we are a public face of the Church, a responsibility we accept with our personal and ministerial accounts.
  • We need to be committed to posting frequently to provide not just information but prayerful inspiration.
  • All parish social media should be intentionally planned by a team with evangelizing goals, messaging and intended audiences. It should be implemented by a team, people with varied points of view.
  • Not all "Catholic" sources are reliable sources. We need to rely on our own  Bishop, Diocese and priests, the USCCB and other Bishops' conferences, the Vatican, the Pope, and recognized religious orders.
  • Social media provides the "intangible" benefit of allowing us to get to know our parishioners outside the Church setting and to humanize our Church staffs.
We prayed together from Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. The Pope offers this prayer to Mary who he calls "the star of the new evangelization." May Mary watch over us as we reach out, near and far, to bring more closer to our Lord and Savior.

...Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.

Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God's little ones,
pray for us.
Amen. Alleluia!

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