C3 keynote: Evangelizing and ministering in the digital age

“When I was a teacher, I was the gate keeper on what my students read,” said Msgr. Tighe (pictured at an Aug. 11 conference workshop). “Now a teacher’s role is more of a mentor and a guide.” — Credit: VICTOR ALEMAN

Spreading the Gospel — especially for Christians in the last century — often meant traveling to foreign lands, meeting the people, learning the language and then putting into those words (and maybe images) the message of the church.

That chain of events is identical for church leaders today who are looking to bring the message of Jesus to the masses in this highly sophisticated, and often overwhelming, digital age.

Principals, teachers, clergy and staff from more than 125 parishes and school in the Los Angeles Archdiocese attended a discussion on integrating technology and understanding the digital landscape by Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications of the Vatican. The Aug. 13 lecture was held in conjunction with the third annual Catholic Communication Collaboration (C3) Technology Conference at Loyola Marymount University.

Msgr. Tighe’s talk encouraged participants to embrace the technology of the day and to see how social media can be a journey for spiritual transformation as well as the impetus of community and support.

“This small device that I can fit in my hand is revolutionary and it does things we couldn’t imagine 20-30 years ago,” he said, adding that the rules of communication have drastically changed from when he was young. “My nieces and nephews are getting news differently from me, they are forming relationships differently from me, they are learning differently from me. When I was a teacher, I was the gate keeper on what my students read; now a teacher’s role is more of a mentor and a guide.”

Those two roles are what the church needs to be in the various social media platforms.

Rather than dismissing the digital world as somehow “unreal,” church leaders need to see the connections that networking can have on the physical world.  What we see online can enhance, enlighten and can deepen our appreciation and connection to the physical world.

Msgr. Tighe stressed that while social media can have many negative followers — trolls and haters — who use the platform to manipulate and unfairly criticize, that’s no excuse for dismissing it.

“Our job is to change that atmosphere and it’s not going to be easy,” he said, describing how after Pope Benedict starting using Twitter in 2012 he would receive plenty of negative comments. “We need to stand by our values, be open and honest and allow for objectivity. Social media debaters can be emotional and we have to be that calm and reasonable voice. Dialogue begins with listening.”

To illustrate his point, Msgr. Tighe referred to Pope Francis’ claim of “Who is my neighbor in social media?” “We have to reject the culture of rejection and manipulation that’s so prevalent in society and off images of hope and support by imitating the Good Samaritan in the digital world.”

Much of the language of the digital age involves images, and Msgr. Tighe encouraged participate to always “show rather than tell” by using photos, art, videos and pictures to tell the story.

“Gone are the days where you can just slap up your newsletter or podcast online,” he said. “You have to engage your readers — do what you can, and allow for mistakes.”

Don’t get tied to just using one type of social media, advised Msgr. Tighe. After all, who knows if that platform will be around in the coming years? Be flexible, take risks and learn from younger people.

Above all, don’t forget the parable of the mustard seed. Parishes may have created a great short video with an important message and only get 200 views. “Then someone else puts up a cat video and that gets 2 million hits,” he says. “Remember, everything starts out small. Don’t give up and keep growing.”


Voices

Iowa and us in a Year of Mercy

Kathryn Jean Lopez

It was in the general-purpose room of St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Des Moines that Donald Trump made his last pitch to Iowa voters, inside a caucus room. He wanted to make sure people remembered that not only will he build the wall on our border with Mexico, but that he’s the only candidate who will make Mexico pay for it.

Events

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February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.

     

    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.

     

    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  

     

    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

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