Evangelizing online forum kicks off C3 conference at LMU

TELLING CATHOLIC STORIES — Social media guru Brandon Vogt says Facebook, Twitter and YouTube let Catholic stories to be told “easier, quicker and cheaper” than ever. — Credit: R.W. DELLINGER

The great evangelists Sts. Peter and Paul took full advantage of the network of Roman Empire roads to spread of Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the then-known world. Today’s evangelists must do likewise with the Internet and social media, the director of the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Office of New Evangelization stressed during opening remarks at the Digital Church Conference this week at Loyola Marymount University.

“Today, our Roman roads are not physical roads but the Internet,” Father Edward Benoiff reminded more than 400 mostly Catholic school educators and parish workers. The day-long Aug. 11 forum kicked off the archdiocese’s third-annual Catholic Communication Collaborative (C3) Technology Conference on the Westchester campus, which continued through Aug. 14.

“We can reach out to people in a much more effective way than even the great pillars of our church,” said Father Benoiff. “St. Peter and St. Paul would have loved having the Internet to boldly proclaim Christ. We’re so blessed. We’re living in a great time for the church. We’re right on the ground floor of this new evangelization plan. Our new expression and method is to use social media. It would be foolish not to.”

The first day featured presentations on the “New Media, New Evangelization,” “How to Create a Website that Will Transform Your Ministry,” “Turning Your Web Presence into a Social Network,” “Connecting with Your Flock” and “5 Secrets to Evangelizing Online.”

Social media guru at Word on Fire Catholic Ministries Brandon Vogt gave the “5 Secrets” afternoon wrap-up session. He pointed out that using the technology of the day to spread the Good News goes back at least to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in the first half of 19th century in the U.S. And the acclaimed preacher’s work on radio (“The Catholic Hour”) and, especially, early TV (“Life is Worth Living”) drew tens of thousands of listeners and viewers.

Vogt said both Popes Benedict XVI and Francis have kept up using the latest technology to reach millions of people today. He noted that the current pontiff, in fact, had become a virtual rock star, with being the most popular figure on all of social media last year. His “tweets” were “retreated” more often than any other world leader.

The “secrets” of evangelizing online, Vogt said, boiled down to five best practices:

1)   “Get help” with your social media efforts, especially from teenagers and young adults, who have grown up using the new technology.

2)   “Learn the [specific] language” of Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, emails and other social media platforms.

3)   “Use videos,” made easy to shoot with smart phones, because people will take the time to watch videos.

4)   “Welcome Outsiders” back to the church through social media outreach.

5)   “Engage the Culture,” to really reach today’s young people.

“Figure new ways to tell our Catholic stories,” urged Vogt. “But the good news is that these new media allows us to do it easier, quicker and cheaper than ever before. And so using these five practices, I encourage you to launch out together to let us evangelize the Internet.”

Maggie Lara, development director at St. Louise de Marillac Church in Covina, came to the Digital Catholic Conference at LMU with a specific thing in mind. “We’re looking to engage the next generation of Catholics, and we know that technology is one of the ways that we can do it,” she told The Tidings. “We’ve begun that process, and we just want to refine it and make sure that we’re doing it in the best possible way that we can.”

The conference confirmed for her that the church’s true mission is pretty simple —to bring people “into relationship,” but which at a sprawling suburban parish like St. Louise de Marillac, with more than 4,800 families, is a definitely daunting task. But she said using Facebook and Twitter to communicate, along with follow-up letters and phone calls, plus having an up-to-date website with engaging videos has helped a lot.

“The conference was really good, and I loved the presenters, who are really ‘technology evangelists,’” Lara said. “And we, too, have to be vigilant, passionate, excited about sharing the Gospel. Because in the end, it’s about getting to heaven. And technology is one way we can help people to begin their journey.”    


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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