Monday, April 23, 2012

On the Media

Forgive the quiet, folks -- it's not at the desk... and per usual, it won’t be for long on the whole.

As if last week's bombshell wasn't enough, there's more in the pipeline... until the pieces are sufficiently sewn up, though, this scribe’s on special assignment, and your insights are the ones in focus.

Over the coming days, the pages will be mostly dark as I’ll be in Texas, giving a convocation to priests. The topic is the proverbial wheelhouse -- the church on the digital continent, the New Evangelization, new technology and what it brings to the table, with a side-order of buzz to keep anybody’s eyes from glazing over. (At least, one can hope.)

Much as eight years at the desk has made for its fair share of findings, lessons, pitfalls and memories, the sum total is still only one guy’s experience. Part of the exercise of these days, meanwhile, is to lay out what the tools of our time, many as they are, can and do bring to ministry and church life in the trenches.

Ergo, church of all stripes, pray tell: what does all this stuff -- blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblrs, etc. -- do for you? How do they help on the ground? When are they at their best (and, indeed, their worst)? What more could they do to live up to their highest potential? Or, conversely, what difference would it make if they all just up and vanished?

For everybody's fun, the combox is open... and, well, jump right in. Just one ground-rule request: for purposes of context, please say where you’re writing from, and note your state of life, age range, the basics. Beyond that, just keep it clean and on-point and the conversation will be all the better for it.

For the record, contributions will be moderated to keep things from descending into an LCWR/SSPX/AOCA (Any Other Charged Acronym) food-fight. Aside from that, per usual, it's all an experiment, so let's see what happens. With another World Communications Day soon upon us -- and this year's emphasis on balancing silence and perspective with the din -- perhaps the topic is particularly worthwhile to the moment.

Lastly, the diversity and thoughtfulness of this readership has never ceased to amaze me these years in the notes you’ve sent and conversations we’ve had. That’s a very moving gift, and because of that -- because of you -- there seems to be no better spot for this kind of exchange. No pressure.

As ever, all thanks in advance for everything you bring to the table, both here and elsewhere... and with that, the floor is yours -- have at it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a 33-year-old lay Catholic blogger from the Netherlands, have been blogging for little over two years now (well, on Catholic topics at least), and I also use Twitter and Facebook. That's really it for social media, but I find that not jumping into every new experiment, network or what have you, helps to keep things focussed. The blog is the main thing for me.

I use social media, in the first place, privately. I like blogging and if others find what I write interesting; all the better. It's tool to keep myself up to date on developments in the Church, and it also challenges me to keep thinking. Blogging's no passive thing!

Generally speaking, social media on Catholic stuff shows me that I am a part of something big, practically and spiritually. I am not very much bound to my parish or even diocese: there is so much out there, in other dioceses, countries, Rome, elsewhere, that affects us and that we should be aware of and act on or against.

I would not want to miss it, because it serves a great purpose in my neck of the woods, especially when the official Church channels in my neck of the woods are cutting their budgets when it comes to communication. In that sense, I also feel a responsibility to communicate about faith and Church: if the 'officials' can't do it, it falls to us. We can't fall silent about our faith.

23/4/12 10:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Almost 48, 5yr convert. Now in TX, but entered church in Arlington, Va diocese, blessedly conservative atmosphere.

Blogs and Catholic news provide some insight I don't have, some non-cradle Catholic information that I value, and, sometimes, hope in the darkness. Encouragement when I can't find enough of the tradition that brought me here, but am overrun by flutes, female servers, insistence to "greet your neighbor by name " after procession and before Mass. Also, less slant on Church news, with insight that will never be grasped by secular media. Been reading you almost since your start and WAY before you hit 700000 hits. Thank you

23/4/12 11:06  
Anonymous Tom Pringle said...

It's funny you posted this today because I'm actually heading out to a conference that will focus on how the Church can utilize new media--Facebook, Twitter, blogs--to evangelize and spread the Gospel message on the digital continent. I've been blogging for several years now and it has provided me with the opportunity to grow in my own faith. I have learned quite a bit from my fellow Catholic bloggers and have come to appreciate the online Catholic community more and more. We're all on a similar journey of deepening our faith and coming to know Christ on a personal level. I think exposing our faith journey to outsiders--while it takes some courage--can, in fact, lead others to recognize Christ as Lord and embrace his call for each of us to "Go out to all the world and preach the Gospel."

I am also one of the webmasters for my parish--Church & School-- and have been tasked with implementing the use of social media. One thing we have noticed in recent months is the age group of parishioners utilizing the social networking sites. To our amazement, the majority of parishioners Facebooking and Twittering were between the ages of 30 and 60. So, there is still the question, what are we doing to interact with younger generations of Catholics? We are still loosing young Catholics. This is where blogging enters into the equation. If more Catholics would be open to blogging about their faith, we would make the Church personal. I think that's what the young people are seeking. Most think the Church and its traditions are outdated. I wonder how this would change if they experienced the joy of being Catholic on a personal level.

We have a lot of work to do. All of us have to participate in the evangelization of the digital continent. We already have a lot of catching up to do with Churches of other faiths who have been utilizing social networking and blogging tools for years. But, the endeavor is not impossible for "all things are possible through Christ." Time to get to work.

Tom Pringle
Orlando, FL

23/4/12 11:24  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm 26, married with 3 kid. I am from the West Coast and this area lacks faith in an incredibly sad way. I started searching blogs to find other NFP couples. We don't have support from our own families, and it seemed cyberspace would be the only place to find solidarity. I found lots!

23/4/12 11:49  
Blogger Paul S. said...

Paul; age 30; Ann Arbor, MI; Discernment house resident; Juventutem Michigan group coordinator

When used well, all of these new media give us a better chance to tell His story ... or at least a chance to pop little bits of information about current parish and ministry activities into the consciousnesses of those who have expressed a little bit interest.

Our parish's young adult adoration group has a weekly email that is sent to many, and read by few (and sometimes is subsequently posted to our website).

Facebook is a blessing and a curse. For those of us who use it, it facilitates a certain ease in providing information about activities to those who have expressed interest. At the same time, use of facebook exhausts some of the time that we and other persons might have utilized to participate in actual human social activities. Because facebook is so "efficient," it often causes those of us who are using it to provide information to ... neglect to use other manners of communication to provide information ... resulting in
a) a certain disenfranchisement of those persons who don't use facebook / are not "power-users" of facebook and
b) a certain tendency to not reach out to those who haven't expressed interest in the first place (at least as compared to those who might have inadvertently reached out to, if we have used some alternative methods for advertising events and information in the public square).

For ministries where significant efforts are being put into all manners of outreach, facebook is a certain primus inter pares in terms of organizing and recording human social activity - or at least that's how we're using it for this Friday's kickoff Mass & Dinner.

23/4/12 11:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have recently retired (age is in the 60's). After 20 years I remain active at my conservative parish in Houston, Texas. This is how I make use of the internet: I follow many Catholic web sites and pass on articles to our pastor, I use print out articles for my religion class, get questions answered on the Faith, by using the Catholic encyclopedia (New Advent). The net keeps me up to date on what is happening in the Church. I cannot imagine coping without it. It has been a fantastic tool and keeps me in touch with the world. This is coming from a person who was completely afraid of the internet when it first came out many years ago.

23/4/12 12:07  
Anonymous Charles Denmier said...

Basics: 30-something, married w/ children, living in Indianapolis and regularly consuming/contributing to Catholic media in print, on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

My take: Besides the tremendous ability to be directly informed of the content of homilies, speeches, Church documents and the like (which I hardly ever read), and the ability to have an alternative to the mainstream media, the vast array of social/digital media available has not had any positive impact on me. I consume most of it, if I'm being honest, like fun facts and gossip and ammunition for arguments. It's information popcorn, and the more I consume the less ability I have to stop consuming or to consume properly. I've found that my reading time has darted away from full Church documents and books and fled toward "easy reading" on blogs and Twitter. I find that the typical comment boxes are filled with mostly useless, inflammatory comments that are rarely a true discussion.

In short, I would think that after having so much more Catholic stuff in my daily diet I would be a better Catholic, a better Christian, a better man. But it is not so. I am, though, more argumentative, more judgmental and more bitter. Sometimes I'm also more triumphalistic, sometimes more despairing. This is a harsh indictment, much more so of my own sinfulness than the problems of social/digital media...nevertheless, I think (and have thought for some time with growing strength), that the answer to your question, "What difference would it make if they all just up and vanished?" is that the world would be a much better place.

23/4/12 12:07  
Anonymous Fr. Steve G said...

Even though I am a priest for almost 32 years, I consider myself to be somewhat "tech/social media" savvy. As pastor I personally maintain our parish website (updated at least weekly), have parish and personal Facebook pages, have a personal blog, dabble in Twitter and am part of a staff that communicates extensively through e-mail and text messaging. I have gotten to the point where I have to choose which tools I will use most in my ministry, due to the tremendous amount of time involved. My postings to Facebook and the blog have become more and more "re-posting" from others sources that I think are beneficial - why reinvent the wheel?!
For me the best part about using Social Media is the ability to communicate instantly with others. The worst part is that the communication is often too brief and not nuanced. There are many times when, rather than a back and forth via text messages or e-mail I will make a phone call. There is still something very pastoral in using the human voice, and I find most parishioners appreciate it.
All in all, the explosion of social media has been a good thing for the Church and I believe we would be worse off without it. We do have to have a balance, however, between communication that simply transfers information from one person to another and communication that creates unity between and among people.

23/4/12 12:12  
Blogger Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Married 30-year-old from New Jersey; lifelong Catholic.

"How do they help on the ground?"

They (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) make immediately available an enormous amount of information about the faith and its practice in the world. It's like a digital, constantly-updated, virtually living catechism.

"When are they at their best (and, indeed, their worst)?"

At their best, when their content bears real fruit in the world, such as for the lurkers and observers who were too scared to broach the subject that someone else did, or did not know how to go about doing so, or didn't even know they had the same concern or question. In a word, when they act as yeast.

At their worst, when participants (authors and/or commenters) forget about the human behind the moniker, and discussions or debates turn ugly. Posts and comboxes quickly become filled with attacks on (presumed) character, instead of being means of building up the Body of Christ. In a word, when they (as salt) lose their flavor.

"What more could they do to live up to their highest potential?"

I think the people using the social media platforms need to understand the platforms better. Dioceses should tweet about upcoming events, not just tweet links to the diocesan calendar. Parish Facebook pages should be up-to-date with plenty of content from parishioners, not just the pastor and staff. People writing on blogs (authors or commenters) should self-moderate better, and seek to build up before tearing down.

"What difference would it make if they all just up and vanished?"

We could finally get some work done around here, instead of tweeting about it. Seriously, though, I think we would lose a sense of the universality and global-reach of the Church, something that social media platforms manifest beautifully.

Thank you, Rocco, for opening the combox. Here's hoping the contributions are edifying!

23/4/12 12:15  
Blogger mrsd said...

Who could pass up an opportunity like this?! I write from No. AZ, in midlife, work-at-home-mom-writer-crafter, Catholic. I find much inspiration and encouragement for living out my faith through the new technology. A greater variety than I could afford if I had to subscribe to tons of periodicals. I also find that I have to sort through alot of slush and misinformation. Yet, if all this opportunity for greater outreach suddenly vanished, I think we would be much the poorer for it.

23/4/12 12:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a few blogs on a daily basis, and Generally ignore tWitter and Fb postings. The blogs I check help me stay informed about the Church, and my own particular interests within the Church. The upside is that I stay informed the downside is that the daily details can distract from the essence of the faith, Christ. Sometimes I know that instead of reading more about the low grade civil war between progressives, traditionalists, charismatics, and the "affirmative orthodox" I should pray that they might be one.

23/4/12 12:37  
Blogger Diane Korzeniewski said...

Open combox. Cool!

I have a blog, am on Facebook, Twitter, and just tinkering with Google+

The web is missionary territory. I was a lukewarm Catholic, but turned to the internet for answers about my faith. All my life I felt I was getting what people wished Catholicism was about, but I never really knew what the Church itself taught. That's what I wanted to know; I was seeking truth. I was no longer limited to what was being taught from the pulpit, where I learned just how much God loved me, but was never really taught how to love Him back. It seemed to me that I needed to know what the Church taught, and the internet is where I discovered that. I followed those sources that quoted Scripture, Church documents, the saints, and I went to them to get full context. Today, I try to offer those things to others who are searching, via the given media.

Of late, I have also been using those tools to amplify the voice of the bishops over the pseudo-magisterium of those who work against the true Magisterium. The secular press isn't going to do it, so it is up to faithful Catholics to get that word out.

Social media has also been a practice field for following the faith. We need to come up with some guides that help form the conscience of all who use new media in spreading the faith. It is easy to inadvertently participate in rash judgment, which leads to worse things. We should always look to respond in ways that comprehend the virtues, rather than conforming to the popular trend of the day, which may be to tell someone, "eat my shorts". This aspect, I am passionate about. We need to look to the saints, and most especially to St. Thomas Aquinas and others who can teach us about the more subtle forms of sin so that we use new media in the most God-pleasing, and blameless way.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment!

23/4/12 12:41  
Blogger Diane Korzeniewski said...

Sorry about leaving out the demographics. This goes with my previous comment.

-Female; single - late 40's
-Writing from southeast Michigan

23/4/12 12:53  
Blogger Joseph Mastrangelo said...

Single, youth minister, 29yrs, from Houston, TX
New media (blogs, pod-casting, social media, online videos) have become the main source of my intellectual consumption. I see what is going on in pop-culture and I see what many of the Catholic/Christian thinkers are saying about it right now. I try to absorb as much as I can so I can then transmit a coherent, logical and (if at all possible) humorous/'hip' response to the youth that I encounter.

23/4/12 13:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I barely have time to scan the Advent articles, choose a relevant one and then move on to catch up with my grandchildren on Facebook. I usually try to read "Whispers" but will admit to being selective about the topic.
As far as Twitters, Tumblrs, Instagrams and most blogs --they are boringly banal and inane.
Who in the world has time for all this incessant din? Unless of course it's your job.
As my friend Yacob says, "What a country!"

23/4/12 13:27  
Anonymous Michael Murray said...

I think this is a great topic to consider as there are alwasy pro's and con's to any given development in technology. I think the clearest benefit from the ever expanding range of media outlets is the access to an expanse of information. The benefit of this is that we can be much more in touch with what is going on in our Church, both good and bad. The other side of this benefit is that people need to know how to filter the information. Something that comes from a blog like Whispers, is an easy thing to understand and interpret. When we see friends or random people taking to Facebook and Twitter to issue their opinion on a particular matter that can be a whole different issue.

As Catholics I believe this has underscored the importance of being well informed in our faith and understanding why we believe what we do. We may know that the Church opposes contraceptives and abortion, but we really need to understand why the Church opposes that so we can engage in intelligent conversation with our friend's and family, some of whom may disagree with us.

As a 26 year old cradle Catholic who deeply believes in the teachings of the Church I understand that information is power, but we need to be able to filter what we are reading or watching through the lens of our faith.

Michael Murray
Cleveland, OH

23/4/12 13:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 50 years old, married, mother of three and a blogger in the Midlantic area and I think new media is going to be the key to the new evangelization and the Holy Spirit's weapon to save the church from itself. That and our current pope, God bless him, who has clearly understood this from the start of his pontificate.

23/4/12 13:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would make a great deal of difference to me if the Catholic presence were to vanish from blogs, Youtube, and news aggregators. Not so much from Facebook (which I seldom use and don't entirely "get"), podcasts or Twitter (none of which I use at all).

I believe I now have a much better picture than previously of what's going on and being said in the Catholic world. Among the old media gatekeepers, secular media are by and large incompetent and frequently hostile. Catholic media were/are generally well-informed and not afraid to push their various POVs/agendas, but the number of voices was too restricted. Also, the information channels (ultimately including sources) tended to be calcified, overly predictable, self-interested, and unchallenged. Embarrassing news is now much more difficult to suppress, much more easily documented, much less dependent on the interest or good will of filters that kept the party polite at the cost of truth-telling. The hierarchy was a very long time in coming to appreciate the evangelistic value of a proactive partnership with the media, much less that of direct, unmediated multi-way conversations among clerics, religious, and laity.

The possibility of commentary from the bottom up (not all of course, and self-selected) has increased the confidence of the faithful in joining the conversation, asking awkward questions too long left unasked, and therefore taking part in the work of (re)evangelization. Intelligent and articulate Catholics are no longer voiceless and no longer forced to wonder whether anyone else cares for their concerns. What's been eye-opening to me are both the appalling ignorance, confusion, treachery, and obstinate wrong-headedness of many (straight across the spectrum), as well as the delightful and astonishing learning, insights, and downright holiness evident in many others. It's now much more difficult to close ourselves in self-regarding circles that pretend "the other" doesn't exist or has nothing to say.


23/4/12 13:33  
Blogger Joanne K. McPortland said...

I'm a 61-year-old revert (2 years back after 30+ away from formal practice, though I have pretty much always worked for the Church in catechetical media and publishing, and now in stewardship) who found the Catholic blogosphere immensely helpful in negotiating the transition back to a Church that is so vastly different than the one I left. That blogosphere also raises many challenges and questions of its own. After partaking in combox exchanges for a year or so, I started blogging myself in January, mostly to wrestle out loud with how one lives (if one can) in the middle of a Church and a society that are both so aggressively polarized. I think the new media hold huge promise for assisting in the new evangelization, but that we are very far from knowing how we want to use them and what we want to say. I asked (from a much simpler and less experienced perspective) many of the same questions you raise in this post in my own blog a week or so ago , hoping to hook into an ongoing conversation, and then got scooped by the news cycle. So I'm delighted that you are raising these questions and opening them up to your much larger and more informed readership. Thank you!

23/4/12 14:08  
Blogger SWP said...

Married, 31, Diocese of Gaylord, MI

I started blogging in 2004, when friends showed me how easy it is to start one up. I perused so many blogs that left me depressed at the spiritual morass that is secularism. I wanted to be a voice in the Wilderness, so I started an explicitly Catholic blog. I discovered St. Blog's Parish, and have gradually groomed my blogroll to those blogs that have the most satisfying posts and those Catholic bloggers who are most well-known. I also wanted to keep hold of the many websites and resources I found in my searching, so that now my blog has become an online compendium of links more than a place where I journal. It has connected me to people who share my love of liturgy and the Pope as well as my distrust of the mainstream media. Now I subscribe to New Advent and visit regularly to get my fill of Vatican news (because I can't wait until my next OSV comes in the mail). I love reading what our Holy Father shares with the world, and your blog and others make that possible. In college I was considered odd for my devotion to the Pope; the Catholic blogosphere has helped me to know I am in good company. People may criticize bloggers for being too comfortably sheltered in their own worldview, but in the antagonizing secular climate in which we live, it's a vital role the Catholic blogosphere plays in keeping the faithful enriched and affirmed in their faith.

23/4/12 14:14  
Anonymous Peter J said...

I am a 22 year old seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, who will be starting my theological studies this coming August. I have a Facebook page, and I read Whispers on a regular basis. There are other forms of news about Church goings on, but I greatly enjoy Whispers, not only for the news updates, but for the great humanness of the blog. I apologize, I know that statement is obscure. I mean that like a good liturgy, or an authentic teaching of the Church, it has a uniquely emotional, personal, vibrantly human character (especially present in all the videos, sermons and addresses that are attached), and I greatly appreciate that. My Facebook page, rather, serves a similar purpose, but in a necessarily more personal way. I interact with a circle of friends and acquaintances, encouraging them and being encouraged in turn by their various posts. I pray for those who ask. I am able to stay current on young adult events and parish events in the area. Overall, I am grateful for these social media.

I do not think much of Twitter, because it is set up to be more one-way, and unless you post truly important information to others, it seems rather superficial and trivial to read the minute details of another's daily life.

What if they all vanished? My previous two answers are probably good enough to explain why I think that it would be bad for Facebook and good for Twitter. I think it would be VERY bad if this blog disappeared. I'm a fan. Thank you very much, both for the enormous effort required to sustain the blog, and for the kindness and consideration to open the conversation to feedback. Know of my prayers for your convocation in Texas, God bless your day.

23/4/12 14:42  
Blogger Tom Hayes said...

I'm a Catholic priest in County Cork, Ireland, early 50s, pastor in a rural parish. I digest a lot of electronic media and engage to some extent as a contributor via a blog, facebook and twitter. I believe that engagement with the internet and social media particularly are essential fora for any faith community today. To not use them is akin to being illiterate in the contemporary world — not just because they are tools of communication but also because they have a formative influence in our culture. And the greatest challenge for faith today is to see the hand of God truly alive and active in rapidly changing cultures.
Tom Hayes.

23/4/12 14:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blessings on your time with the priests in Texas! I hope it's a fruitful discussion. I know I've backed off my own blog which lately at times has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. I started it to be a voice for the middle-of-the-road Vatican II mindset but have lost steam with all the negativity of the comments and discussion. But without the comments it feels like a monologue. Since I turned off the comments I found myself doing more reacting to situations and getting negative about bishops, Vatican officials etc. That's not where I want to be. The LCWR situation is fine example. I both understand the Holy See's dilemma and I can see why women religious would be furious. I'm often caught in between poles of an issue. Anyways... any other religious, clergy or lay bloggers wondering what's our role out here? How are we to be part of the dialogue that leads to both a new evangelization and a deepening of our faith?

Rick Riccioli, OFM Conv.
50, in young adult ministry
Syracuse, NY

23/4/12 15:28  
Blogger Virginia Meagher said...

I am mid 30s, married with 3 kids in NorCal. I have worked in diocesan ministry for the past 10 years.

The digital media provides an array of information that I wouldn't get in my little corner of the world any other way. It helps to alert me to bigger issues going on and helps me stay out of my myopic focus on my small diocese. I have also been blessed to find a variety of Catholic sites out there that on occasion really help to provide a brief moment of prayer or reflection in the midst of a crazy day.

I am however, continually disappointed at the ease with which they allow people of all persuasions to focus on their own hyper narrow interests and claim a single perspective as "right" because someone else also said it online. Rather than being vehicles for growth and understanding (which does NOT mean acquiescence to an opinion or stance that is wrong), these digital communities seem to be splitting the Catholic universe into smaller and smaller pieces of the pie that do not touch each other, speak to each other, or see a connection with each other. I am deeply saddened by the strains many of these sites put on the communion of faith.

And I am offended at how they have quickly become a way for people to even shop for a bishop they believe to be "worthy" of their support. This is almost an attack on our ecclesiology and will probably turn out to be deeply troubling to the faith over the long run. Being in communion with one another does not mean the whole church is in lock step on everything. But I frequently see Catholics saying the most vile things about one another and making such inappropriate comments of judgment. Faith as community seems to be only for those who feel exactly the same way as I do about everything. Whispers seems to me to be very different from the rest, in that the readership is vast and all seems to see itself well represented - which is a great testament to Rocco's dedication to telling the story rather than setting the agenda.

Finally, I am also personally challenged by these opportunities. There is more I would personally like to say and do online, but I do work for a Diocese. I disdain the creation of "fake online identities" that seem to allow people to not say what they would be willing to put their name to. However, while I would be willing to put my name to more, I know that my job and ministry (which I have absolutely chosen) requires that in all matters at all times I "tow the line." It also means that I could be an embarrassment to my bishop if I ever said something I thought was OK but really was perhaps a bit off because of my personal lack of understanding. So rather than err one way or the other, I usually consume a great deal more media than I ever actively participate in. This is a rare exception. Thank you for the opportunity.

23/4/12 15:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 38, and a married Catholic man with three kids aged 6, 3, and 1. I went to Catholic grade school and high school. I'm a cantor at my parish as well. Fortunately for me, my wife is also Catholic, praise God.

For my own development as a person of faith, the Internet has been most valuable. What became clear to me very quickly, as I began to explore my faith in depth in my late-20s, was the seemingly infinite wealth of information and guidance available to faithful people if they look for it. This was not presented to me as a young adult in church. I discovered it almost accidentally using Google searches and finding Catholic blogs that attracted me with excellent information that was true to the Magisterium. The Truth has a way of cutting to your core. I now read Catholic blogs every day and find them a valuable aid to my faith.

I learned about the book "Love and Responsibility" through a blog. It is the most amazing book I've ever read. I discovered the riveting prophecy of "Humanae Vitae" and then explored why this was such a lightning rod for the US church. I found out about other books like "Introduction to the Devout Life" as well. And I've used resource sites like "New Advent" to look up saints. Who was St. Patrick? Why was he important? Things like that. There's more to St. Pat than green beer it seems. I never knew the Shamrock was a symbol of the Holy Trinity used by St. Patrick to evangelize the Irish people until I read it on a blog. My devotion to Padre Pio started when I found an article about him on "Spirit Daily" one day.

To me, an East Coaster of Italian-Irish descent, the faith has become more of a social obligation for many in my family. When I wanted more, I found it on the Internet. Not on Sunday.

23/4/12 15:47  
Blogger Father John Hollowell said...

Fr. John Hollowell, 32 year old 3 year vet as a priest. I'm a blogger and I've started dabbling in website creation so that if and when I'm a pastor (especially at a small parish) I can do what Fr. Steve G. talked about above.

I think the biggest challenge for priests is getting over the fear that it will take a lot of time to get started.
To get a Facebook page up and running takes 45 seconds.
To set up a Twitter account takes 30 seconds.
To set up a blog...less than a minute.

Even the website creation I'm dabbling with now is one of those things that I just dove into and I've realized it is easier than I had feared.

Once you've signed up it is just a matter of playing around with it for a while and anybody can pick up how to use it.

Catholics have to just dive in, and the Holy Spirit will show us how to take advantage of the tools.

I can't encourage priests enough to also enter the digital world through videos, whether it is homilies or other catechetical sessions - at Mass on the weekend a priest might reach a couple thousand - if he films the same homily he can reach millions. A weeknight RCIA class might reach 60 folks, but the whole parish can watch at their convenience if it is up on Youtube.

Finally Catholics have to tap our young people. Youth ministry right now is icebreaker games and pizza. What if the youth ministry (with a small investment of capital - a few cameras, a few computers) became doing media outreach and producing videos and other media for the parish and the larger Church. The young people thrive when they are trusted.

These are my ideas, sorry if this is too long. Keep up the great work Rocco!

23/4/12 15:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Rocco,
I am a Franciscan Sister in the United States, although my Congregation is international. I just wanted to say thank you for your blog - more than one of the first to print Vatican announcements, you are one of the few sources to give us beautiful homilies from our Holy Father and other clergy from various events (Such as Cardinal Chaput's "vision and program" for the future of the Church in Philadelphia. God bless your priests convocation in Texas.

A Sister from a Congregation loyal to the Church and Magisterium

23/4/12 16:09  
Blogger From George said...

Late fifties, Canadian west, I love how Google reader gives me daily contact with the blogs I follow, Whispers being the first one on my list. Twitter is a quick glance at what is brewing in the Church and, best of all,I can do morning and evening prayer in Latin with some great folks from Spain.

23/4/12 16:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a 48 yr old mother of three teens, and I only use Facebook for photos of trips and to connect with friends far away. Will never tweet or look at tweets. Advent is great to point me to articles/blogs keeping me current on all things Catholic, and sort of a faith filled vitamin to keep learning and growing. I do have a few bloggers that I love because of their hilarious common sense takes on current events whether Church related or just newsworthy. I also like to see comments sometimes just because it helps me to see all the different perspectives out there. It doesn't mean they change my mind, but hopefully lets me understand people's motivations better.

23/4/12 16:17  
Blogger John said...

Thanks for all that you have done and do!

I started my own blog this past Christmas during time-off from teaching.

My place is more or less a portal or collage, a place where folk can take in the Church's Tradition and traditions, with a little commentary by yours truly. I like to think of it as an oasis. So, there are a few select links to spots which are faithful witnesses to Christ and His Church.

Your blog was one of the first I entered my blogroll.

23/4/12 16:17  
Blogger Unknown said...

Rocco -- great topic and prayers for your preparations. Having had the pleasure of hearing you speak in person, I think those priests are in for a treat! On this topic, I marvel daily at the blessings that have come into my life as a result of social media in the Church. The absolute humbling honor of being a Catholic editor for a multi author blog ( and a contributor to another ( constantly reminds me of the beauty of the Universal Church. I am treated to the work of authors who share varying perspectives but a common love for the Church. I learn, I explore, I give thanks, and yes, sometimes I get frustrated. But on the whole, my faith is much more solid and vibrant thanks to my fellow bloggers and social media contacts.

23/4/12 16:30  
Blogger Nina said...

I am a married, 52 yr old mother of two (one of whom is a seminarian). I work in a casino and live in the spiritual desert of South Jersey. On the whole, I view the internet as a tool, and I use it as such where my faith is concerned. I do not blog or Tweet, but Facebook keeps me current with family and friends. Truly, information is power. It is not unusual for me to travel an hour or more from my home or even to Philadelphia or Delaware in search of seminars, presentations, festivals, retreats, or worship opportunities that I have found online. I enjoy reading just a few blogs daily, and check-in on others sporadically. I read/watch lots of homilies online, too - I am a big fan of Cardinal Dolan’s and Archbishop Chaput’s, to name a few. I also love it for biblical word pronunciation .wav files (so I can do justice to sacred scripture as a reader at Mass). I spend a lot of time on Salt & Light’s website – the content is simply excellent and it is well maintained. If nothing else, the internet helps me to feel CONNECTED to my faith in many ways where I do NOT feel connected to it locally.

I think something that ALL parishes (and, unfortunately, several dioceses) with an online presence could improve upon is maintaining their websites. If you get a new pastor who does not make this the priority it was to the previous one, bring the importance of it to his attention. Much too often while surfing, I find years’ old content reflecting nothing useful. So what is the point? If a parish has a website, the parish staff should be responsible for it – not volunteers! And if it is not up-to-date with the latest information, parish activities and events, what purpose does it serve? Please, please, PLEASE have an e-mail link, too – with a staff member on the other end who is responsible to respond to the e-mail in a timely manner.

Attention all pastors: the learning curve has been over for some time now. If you have one, please make good and full use of your parish website for your parishioners’ sake. Include links to your diocese’s website, the Vatican website, and other informative and useful sites. USE THE TOOL! Don’t waste an excellent opportunity to reach out.

23/4/12 16:55  
Blogger Nick said...

22, single, discerning

I think social media is a largely untapped resource for the Church and a fantastic way to connect with people of all ages. Facebook's largest growing demographic people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

I'm preparing to graduate with my MS and return home for work and also get involved in my parish. I've been blessed to be a part of an active campus ministry at college, but even the campus ministry struggles to fully engage students online. The Newman Center's presence on Facebook and Twitter is growing, but social media is not a core part of the ministry (that it could be).

My parish on the other hand has an abysmal website and absolutely nothing on Facebook or Twitter. I'm hoping to get involved and change this for the good of all in the parish, especially to engage youth and young adults.

For me personally I love reading church blogs, church news, etc. Especially Whispers and Cardinal Dolan's blog, but also various other resources - Headline Bistro, etc. I find good church opinion that is balanced and provides good contextual information is fruitful to my faith and helps me better understand the Church.

I truly hope that the Church can engage the "digital content" through the New Evangelization. Pope Benedict has an iPad and has launched great Vatican initiatives for technological growth - I hope other bishops and priests will follow suit and that the laity will help and support them, and provide their own witness to evangelize the digital continent.

23/4/12 17:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Single, late 40s, New England.

I use the internet to read homilies that complement my parish's uneven homilies. I also use it to follow the news, and through the discussions I have had learned quite a bit about Catholicism, so that has contributed a lot to my education. Moreover I use it to vent off steam, not always wisely. Finally it is sometimes comforting to have an online Catholic community of like-minded people.

Without the internet I would be restricted to local events and books, and how would I even know which books to read?

23/4/12 17:22  
Blogger John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

I'm a 64 year old lay missionary in Honduras; I have been supported by the parish where I worked for 24 years before coming here in 2007. That parish is St. Thomas Aquinas, Ames, Iowa.

I had been using Facebook a bit when it was mostly university based, as a way to communicate with students and others. Now it has become a way to pass on information to a large group of friends and interested persons. (Links to my blogs get posted on my wall.)

I began blogging before coming here because I saw that it was important to share the experiences of the church here, especially with the parish of St. Thomas. I consider it very important to let people know about the life of the church here, among the poor of western Honduras.

When the Honduras coup took place on June 28 2009, my blogging assumed another goal - getting the word out about the church's response to the coup, especially since my diocese took a critical approach to the coup. I ended up posting most documents of the Catholic community on the coup on a different blog and translations on a third blog. I still post important Honduras church documents and translations.

Interestingly I started another blog at the beginning of Lent 2011. A friend in Palestine asked me for sources on the web for reflection. I sent him a few and then began to use the materials I had collected over the years for Lenten booklets at St. Thomas as well as a calendar of martyrs and witnesses for justice which I have been compiling for almost two decades.

That's what I contribute.

As to what I use - Facebook helps since I sometimes get references to important documents in English and Spanish from certain groups (e.g., USCCB and CNS). I also look at a few blogs - mostly of friends. I try to avoid most of the sites where the fighting gets dirty. However, because of my interest and work in Catholic Social Teaching, I find it interesting to follow a bit, from a distance, the discussions about subsidiarity and more.

In some ways I am glad that I am not in the US and so I don't feel a need to comment on intrachurch conflicts. There are enough problems and conflicts - and massive poverty - here in Honduras that I spend my time on.

23/4/12 18:03  
Blogger Margaret Duffy said...

I'm an early 60s recently retired single woman blogging from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NY. I began blogging lightly a few years ago (while still working)about a highly specialized area of Catholicism -- art history and iconography. Although I did not have the usual career, my training is in the history of art, all the way up to the Ph.D. One day a few years ago, after hearing some eyebrow-raising comments at an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, I realized that contemporary society no longer has any commonly shared understanding of the subject matter of most of Western art, which is not just Christian, but Catholic. Not only is the lack of understanding lamentable in itself but it also leaves people open to false and negative interpretations of images (as for instance the remark I overheard, which was that the Massacre of the Innocents was Crusaders killing Muslim children). So, I decided to do what I can to combat this ignorance.

At first my postings were few because it does take a tremendous amount of time to decide on the topic to address and to track down the images and information needed to write what I think needs to be said. However, since my retirement in late 2010 I've been more prolific. What truly astonishes me is the number of people who are now reading my words and the fact that they come from all over the globe. It's both exhilerating and humbling. I only hope that readers come away with clear facts and at least a small sense of what Christianity has to offer. My blog is

23/4/12 18:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a priest -- mid 50's -- MA in Communications, as well as advanced degrees in Theology. Pastor, Chancery official, etc.

Many positives about the new social media...


big problem is that things are written and posted too quickly, and the TRUTH takes a big hit. People's reputations scarred ... Church teaching presented poorly ... rumors about episcopal appointments turn into a gossippy game ... and (dare I say it here?) "whispers" get shouted from the rooftops.

The "inside story" should be about Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit ... not "purple rain" and clever hints about tomorrow morning's "bollettino".

23/4/12 18:35  
Anonymous Sarah S said...

I'm a married, 27 yr old aero engineer living in Seattle, WA. I'm mommy to a two-year old, and also a lifelong Catholic. I have particular interest in evangelizing to scientific atheists and agnostics.

As American culture has become increasingly hostile to my Catholic value system, I've put myself on a diet of Catholic blogs. I need this constant stream of nourishment to keep myself really rooted in Catholic tradition and teaching. I've gained many useful insights and evangelization tools by reading Catholic blogs. I also feel like I have a broader sense of Catholicism throughout the world, not such a limited view based only on my local community.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. It's terrible because it encourages exhibitionism, praise-seeking, and self-focused thought. But, I do love that I can see what's going on with friends and family all around the country. Yet, I've also ended up learning a lot of personal things that I really didn't want to know about people, and that I wish they never would have posted online in an arena like Facebook. The idea of "filtering" friends to limit exposure to this kind of thing seems wrong to me. It's like selectively tuning out someone who is speaking. Is that really respectful?

I don't do Twitter. I don't understand how to express any worthy thought in 140 characters or fewer.

23/4/12 18:51  
Blogger Magnus said...

Personally I control how much the media intrudes into my life. There is too much to enjoy offline and in real-time. To stay abreast of the important news I scan the topics at New Advent, Whispers in the Loggia and once in awhile I'll take in the headlines at Fox News. That's all of 15 minutes of my day. There's too much to see and enjoy to spend hours online or in front of tv.

23/4/12 19:09  
Anonymous Gregg the Obscure said...

I'm a 48 year old married man who entered the Catholic Church from a protestant background in 2001. I've blogged, commented and read lots of blogs for well over ten years.

What I like about blogs: getting information quickly, getting information that the publishing world would never care to share (whether because it's an odd niche or for other reasons), a sense of community with some other bloggers, interesting perspectives and topics for reflection, some satiety to my excessive curiosity.

What I don't like about blogs: so many good ones have dropped off (Shrine of the Holy Whapping, Kat Lively, Emily Stimpson, the late lamented spoofs of this very blog, etc.) and a few that started well which later went barking mad (I'd rather not open a can of worms by opining on that category). Of course there are many from the left that would send me straightaway into apoplexy, but I can and do avoid them.

23/4/12 19:18  
Blogger April said...

All things in moderation... my mother's and many people's words of wisdom, reflecting the virtue of temperance.

From my perspective and on one hand, I see the blogging world and Twitter/FB as a great tool to be used to evangelize, particularly to those who would otherwise not be interested or exposed to the great truths and opportunities God has in store for them. Those who speak for the Faith have the opportunity to subtley introduce concepts and events through their blogging or FB/Twitter accounts. This seems important at this time in history when so many have fallen from the faith. Sometimes I will comment in the midst of the creepy crawler comments, just to plant a seed. Sometimes, the negative ridicule to a truth-bearing suggestion may touch others in a positive way.

But on the negative side, the blogging world does more often than not breed a world of egotism and un-humble cult-of-personalties that are detrimental to our name and message as Christians. Many bloggers (but definitely not all) in my opinion are often sarcastic and definitely demeaning to those who attack them in the combox. Some of these are also some of the best-known writers out there, who have many great things to say and to teach. I find it frustrating and wish that sometimes bloggers would step back for a humility check. Jesus was oftentimes quiet, and sometimes so should we be. The blogging/Twitter/FB world does not promote this type of temperance at all.

Overall, this concept of technological evangelization/catechesis is in its infancy and we must pray that the good outweighs the bad, and that we go forward in humility... with no spiritual pride involved, but all for the glory of God.

23/4/12 19:57  
Blogger Allison said...

I am a Catholic Homeschooling mother of 4 in my late 40s. We live in Delaware. I've been homeschooling and blogging going on 6 years.

The social media realm of Catholic blogging connects countless homeschooling families. The support and the sharing of resources that the internet enables have created a true community that inspires and informs.

While I have several Catholic homeschooling families in my state, I know now that there are many, many more of us across the country and the world and I am just a click away from them!

The Catholic Pinterest board is a new venue. It has quickly grown to over 1700 readers/followers in just 3 months. As our faith is filled with the Beautiful, Pinterest is a natural fit for Catholics who also like the image-oriented bookmarking it allows.

To you questions, these social media their make the Catholic community an informative, helpful community that spans actual distances. At their worst? Well, like any group relationship, there can be divisive issues for Catholics online. There, too, it will come to light when we all don't believe the same, whether that be in Magisterial teachings or curriculum, in the case of homeschoolers.

If it all went away tomorrow it would be very sad. While I would know that others like me were out there, I would miss the advice and recommendations and what I learn from these voices online. Social media has become a way to finding the pulse of the Catholic world quickly. For me, my blog enabled my family the opportunity to travel to Rome for the Vatican Bloggers Meeting. I count it all good and it suits my temperment to read and learn about my faith via social media.

All the best to you and thank you for your work in this area. God bless.

23/4/12 20:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

49 yo female, cradle Catholic, lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Eucharist, Catechist (Archdiocese of Washington), godparent to my 18 month old nephew...

There needs to be as much CREDIBLE information available in as many venues as possible in order to reach as many as possible...

We cannot continue to hide the Church or our faith, lest we lose the impetus of The New Evangelism and the opportunities afforded hereto...

Only by providing correct, accurate catecheis are we able to openly live the Gospel fully...

Thank you for opening the dialogue...!

Deidre Veronica Hill

23/4/12 20:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heather, married, 20s, convert from Evangelical Protestantism 4 years ago.

I watch 6 blogs and 2 Twitter accounts (all Catholic-related) and check Facebook an average of once/month. Because all the blogs and Twitter accounts are solidly Catholic, I feel like I benefit a lot. I also never know what I'm going to get - a homily, a parsed news piece, a prayer request, a piece of Catholic culture, or an introduction to saint that I'd never heard of. Because I'm a convert, I feel like I have a lot of holes to fill in, holes that I don't even know exist until they are presented to me, especially when it comes to Catholic culture and ethos. On the ground, they help arm me to explain to others how, informed by Church teaching, I feel about current events.

I think they are at their best when they call me to hope and thanksgiving when things are going well and prayer when things aren't. They are also at their best when they are teaching and encouraging me to be a better Catholic and follower of Our Lord.

At their worst, well, this is more on me. At their worst, they distract me from what I am supposed to be doing instead of refreshing and following just one more link.

If they all just disappeared, since I don't watch conventional news outlets or secular blogs, I would definitely miss out on what's going on in the world. But, more importantly, I would also be deprived of that distinctively Catholic worldview on current events. Our world and we Catholics are richer for what blogs and Twitter accounts give us in that arena.

As an addendum, if you leave out online fora, I would have zero support from other women in NFP.

23/4/12 21:21  
Blogger Unknown said...

This post comes from a retired guy who grew up Roman Catholic, was ordained in an Order of men, but now is clergy in a western Orthodox community of faith. I always follow RC sites because while I'm now in another household the RC heritage will always be a part of me.
Sadly, the communication media brings news almost too fast for us to absorb it, that is, to reflect and connect. But I'm addicted, though I still enjoy, and in fact savor the printed page!
The number of writers on things catholic is challenging to them. A recent posting by a different writer than Whispers was met with dozens of responses. They devolved from comments on the piece to comments, many of them confrontational and judgmental,to other commentators. The internet is an active a war zone as the middle east.
Also challenging -- this time to writers -- is how to hold on to one's integrity and independence while also protecting and nurturing one's sources. Not a simple task but a tightrope.
All households of faith, the RC and all others, live in interesting times, and witnessing to the Risen Lord becomes more difficult in an age of high def TV and instant postings.

23/4/12 21:22  
Blogger matthew p said...

28 / Married / 3 kids (so far) / Northern VA

Social media seems is an important way to maintain a sense of community. It's hard for us to find or maintain meaningful friendships with other young Catholic families, because the people in the pews are getting older on average and fewer young people are starting families. Sometimes blogs and facebook help us believe that there really are people "like us" out there somewhere. As our demographics change, it seems to me that the Church (the whole Body, not just a tech-saavy group of bishops) is going to have to leverage these lines of communication in order to simply maintain community.

Thanks for your work, Rocco.

23/4/12 22:24  
Anonymous Chuck In Seattle said...

2 thoughts, since others have said other things:
1. A parish that has no website or an outdated website to me says "dead or dying parish": STAY AWAY! Easy way to find out: every Sunday bulletin should be up by Sunday and every Sunday homily should be up by Monday. DONE!

2. Facebook: Our parish lives on it. The parish bulletin is almost dead. People read "Pastor's Corner" or the like and ignore the rest of the ugly clip art, boxes and boxes with boxes. People are sooo busy, that FB is a way to keep people informed real time, sneak in catechesis, have conversations, and evangelize (yes, that includes paid Facebook ads).

PS We're in tech-heavy, very young (and very secular) Seattle, home of Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, etc.

23/4/12 23:21  
Anonymous Caryn in Denver said...

I'm 42, single woman in Denver, CO. Catholic Match was an amazing resource for me. Joined 7 years ago and stayed for about 4 years. Got hooked on the forums. They were sometimes contentious, but there were also some wonderful faithful Catholics there who pointed me to other resources in my adult catechetical journey.
Now I mostly read Catholic Blogs and use New Advent every day. Also podcasts of Catholic Answers Live.
I really feel like the Catholics I 'read' online are truly brothers and sisters in Christ! I feel that you all help keep me 'on the road'.
May God bless your work always, Caryn

24/4/12 00:56  
Blogger Pat Gohn said...

I started out first in new media as a consumer: a reader of blogs, Vatican news, Catholic websites, and looking to find reviews on books I wanted to read, etc. I also worked in the local parish for many years.

I slowly made the shift to be a content provider in new media as I grew as a catechist, having written for several media jobs in the past. Today, I write for several Catholic new media outlets and even do a regular podcast... it's like I took the conversations and content I was enjoying in the parish and moved it to an online form.

Online media is no replacement for face to face ministry in the parish, but it is often a beginning for people who have a interest in growing in their faith, or it provides good follow up information to someone already with a good background. It is exceedingly helpful in bringing together large amounts of people together over geographical distances.

At its best, new media tools such as blogs, and social media networks inform and enlighten and offer a place to have conversations (hopefully about the Catholic faith and life). They are touchstones for community building, but the do not replace the role that a parish church will have. At its worst, new media outlets can be a place where people are quicker to condemn, bicker, argue, and slander each another under the thin cloak of anonymity the screen provides.

Midlife, Catholic wife, and mother of 3 young adults. Writer/speaker/catechist. A fan of this site for years.

24/4/12 01:18  
Blogger Kristen said...

middle aged mama who writes for corporate people to pay tuition for kids...but who has lurked around Catholic publications (even getting published on occasion) and websites since modems were only 56Mps...

one trend I would track is the tendency for the internet to be a one-sided foray into "people who agree with me"...I don't like it. I am more conservative, but have lived long enough to be inspired by those I don't agree with, in some way, and most especially to be very glad I am Catholic because our Church does embrace wide varieties of religious practice and devotion, and generally, tries to criticize in private, not public. (That said, truth is still truth...and our bishops must share that truth with the greatest of love...even joy...Gosh, I really love to watch that Cardinal Dolan preach the truth!!)
But you would do well to brainstorm ways to use social media to reach out across the aisle and promote brotherhood. I'd rather not say what diocese I am in - but I would say that it is torn asunder by internecine personality conflicts that are exacerbated by the liberal-conservative divide. And very few of the folks who stoke the fires of anger and mistrust are in contact with those who they disagree with - they vilify one another, both sides.

Peace - He really did promise to leave us peace...

24/4/12 01:28  
Blogger Christopher M. Zelonis said...

35 years old, 9 years a priest, Eastern PA

The New Media are, or can be, what I pray to be every day: "an instrument of [God's] peace," truth, joy, and the like. My interactions with the People of God are real by day, virtual by night. That's the rhythm into which things have settled, as night affords the opportunity to answer emails, review blogs, collect and express thoughts.

Afflicted by an interest in cleverness, I am tempted to become the message, not content to be the messenger. Even so, Christ "plays in ten thousand places," so I find that activity both real and virtual warrants a careful examination of motives. At different points I've had to admit, alongside another master of communication, that "'Everything is lawful for me,' but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is lawful for me,' but I will not let myself be dominated by anything" (1 Cor 6:12).

At my own pace I am enjoying my induction into the various tools. Thankfully with regard to technology I am not like those who have just heard of or learned the Electric Slide, or even the Macarena. Yet it is far more important for me to be right-minded with whatever technology is at hand--a lifelong endeavor, I suspect. When spiritual disciplines are in place, the sound byte rightly yields to the Word, so that every utterance will achieve "the end for which [God] sent it" (Isa 55:11).

24/4/12 01:38  
Blogger Fr. Brendan said...

63, priest ordained 39 years, in Maine, used to blog for the last parish. In end-stage cancer and blog with folks on that journey.


1. Many parishes do not keep their parish website current and interesting, and underestimate how many members of their parish are internet-savvy and are hungry for positive information about the direction of their parish and wider Church.

2. The great things about "Whispers in the Loggia" is that it is optimistic about the future of our Church.

3. The resources of the internet are vast. In general I am disappointed with the quality of posted homilies and do not use them as a guide. But there are some sites which help with teasing out the message of the readings.

4. When travelling, I use iBreviary for prayer and Mass - saves lugging around heavy books! I promote this free app and am chuffed to learn that a number of parishioners use this site to pray the breviary at home.

Thanks, Rocco!

24/4/12 02:01  
Blogger Deacon Jim Miles, St. Thomas, Ann Arbor, MI said...

I am a mid-60's Permanent Deacon ordained for the past 28 years serving a fairly large parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I also serve as regional leader of the diaconal community and am fairly active in a couple of international on-line discussion groups. I am not active on Twitter or Facebook but do review a number of Catholic Blogs daily. It helps me stay on top of where the Vatican is headed as well as challenges to the domestic church. There are some very bright people writing and insights prove useful for the our service to God's people.

24/4/12 05:25  
Blogger Fr. John said...

I am a 67 year old Franciscan priest from St. Petersburg, FL. I am an itinerant preacher--parish missions, retreats, etc. I believe that we can truly speak of a digital church because when used well the internet net only communicates information it brings people together and allows them to share their faith, a great asset for the new evangelization. I have a blog (, a Facebook page, and have begun to use Twitter. I have the hope that even as I get older and can no longer travel that I can preach the Gospel from my desk.

Fr. John Anglin, OFM

24/4/12 06:41  
Blogger fr. david tokarz said...

I am a Catholic priest, a pastor, 20+ years in ministry, in Mobile, AL--62 years old. A man in our parish thinks I can preach well and has bank-rolled a project to "get me out there," as he put it. We make digital recordings of daily Mass Liturgy of the Word, full Sunday Mass (both available also as audio-only podcasts)and other special events, and we post them as on-demand on our parish's website AND on YouTube. We get more hits than I would ever have thought. I supplement this by writing a blog (which is also accessible from our parish's website). My purpose is to try to reach out in the electronic age by making the Good News available.

24/4/12 06:50  
Anonymous Fr. Christopher Plant said...

As a fourth-year priest and pastor of an inner-city parish in Houston, Texas, I have found the digital realm to be one of the "villages to which I must go." After three assignments I have gained many Facebook friends. At first it was merely social. Now it has become a tool for evangelization. Remember that those Facebook friends also have Facebook friends: people who would never 'friend' someone with an 'Fr' in front of their name. So the 'share' and the 'like' become the most subtle yet effective means of transmitting the Gospel through the computer screen into homes where the Gospel had never been spoken or read.

All I can say is: let's keep it up!

24/4/12 06:53  
Anonymous Rev. Mr. James said...

What noone has said on here is that Catholic blogs can be both a tool for evangelization and a tool of the devil. The liberal media can use anyting said on blogs as "authoritative" when in fact little is. Take for example the recent article on CNN's Religion segment of their website. They quote you, Rocco, and make it sound like you are the Church's authority on "shake-ups" and "crack-downs". It reads :

"The trial against Lynn and the alleged offending priest, the Rev. James Brennan, has already created a shake-up in Philadelphia's Catholic leadership, according to Catholic commentator and blogger Rocco Palmo.

'It's a shift you see once in 200 years,' Palmo told CNN.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

And, he adds, the trial could have a worldwide ripple effect on the entire Catholic Church, which has been rocked to its core by widespread allegations of sex abuse by priests."

I'm sorry, but for someone in their 20's (or 30's?), I really doubt you have any sort of concept of "worldwide ripple effects" or "200 year" scandals. And you saying so presents yourself in an authoritative light. That is the danger of Catholic blogs, and there are TONS of them who do the exact same thing. No wonder our faithful are so confused. The Magisterium teaches, not the blogs!

24/4/12 07:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 32 year old seminarian in NZ and see new media as a way of reaching out to the world in a way the far exceeds the bounds of traditional media. The key for the Church is to engage with new media particularly through parishes, dioceses, seminaries, congregations understanding and utilising its potential. Sadly, much of what I see (at home and abroad) is that same potential going unused. Bloggers like yourself and +Dolan are missionaries in the digital world and also at the forefront of the new evangelisation which is inextricably linked with new media.

24/4/12 07:45  
Blogger Fr. Philip Powell, OP said...

47 yo Dominican friar in New Orleans. . .

I started blogging my homilies in 2005 at the insistence of my 20-something intern. I was afraid of blogging b/c it looked complicated. Not so. Took me five minutes to get up and running. Joined Facebook and used it in my teaching. Never even thought about Twitter.

Many priests/religious of a Certain Age (50+) shy away from social media on the 'net b/c they tend to view it as a vast waste of time in rumor-mongering and character assassination. There also seems to be some anxiety around the fact that social media has the power to circumvent official/controlled avenues of information and opinion. P.R. folks in the Orders are no longer the sole gateways to the treasure troves!

The learning curve in filtering the wheat from the chafe is steep and many are unwilling to take up the daunting task of seeking out the Best.

OP's have been urged by General Chapters to use the media in our preaching since 2001. And we are seeing the good fruits of this ministry. I'm an internet vocation. . .found the Order's website in 1998 and never looked back.

I read a big variety of sites several times a day and often comment on stories. Whispers is a frequent stop. . .NewAdvent. . . .Fr Z. . .lots of others.

Fr. Philip Neri, OP

24/4/12 08:58  
Blogger Diane Korzeniewski said...

I already commented previously (late 40's, southeast Michigan/AoD) and wanted to share more experience I've had with Twitter and Facebook. I've been using it for about two years now.

My blog is where I write more extensive thoughts (sometimes too extensive - LOL).

I share all of my posts with a link to Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook is where many ordinary people hang out. They will share those posts, and their friends share them, and so on. On Facebook, you will get discussion about what you share. So, it is a true dialogue tool.

Twitter has a lot of ordinary people, but it is my experience that most professional journalists hang out there, I think more so than Facebook. Twitter is where breaking news happens at a break-neck speed. It's not really for dialogue, but for sharing. When I want to know what is happening, be it Catholicism, sports, world news, financial markets, etc., I turn to Twitter. I think others do likewise.

I have created some lists on Twitter to follow tweeting bishops, dioceses, and more (I need to re-arrange them since the number of dioceses coming online globally has gone up). I often look to see what they offer each morning and those are among the first things shared, along things coming from the Vatican. I not only want the ordinary people to see those things, but the journalists and news outlets. Others re-tweet them.

Any diocese not on Twitter, needs to be there. Religion writers and news outlets will follow.

Some bishops, like Bp Christopher Coyne, are very active on Twitter. He's definitely "wired" with his iPad. Such tools have apps that make it quick and easy to interact with things like Facebook and Twitter. Each morning he begins with a stream of tweets from Scripture or about the liturgical feast of the day. He'll also put up some light-hearted things about sports or other things.

Other bishops who tweet, might put up one profound thought per day, based on the liturgical calendar. Bishop Sample uses it weekly, and when there is something going on, more than weekly. Others use it to share some important information coming out of the USCCB, like when something new breaks on the religious liberty front. Quite honestly, that is where I see it first and, when I re-tweet from a bishop, I think it gets more attention, especially from secular news sources and journalists following. I really think bishops should open a Twitter account, which takes mere minutes, and use it once daily to put up a link, quote, or thought.

Once again, Twitter is not really the place for dialogue, but a place for being heard and getting the word out.

It has been difficult to make the lists for bishops and dioceses and I've had to rely on some old-fashioned search techniques to find them. I probably do not have them all.

I really think the USCCB website should have a directory for social media - a clearing house, so-to-speak, so one can browse through those bishops using social media by type. Likewise, each diocese should ensure it's bishops' social media tools are readily visible so people can follow. It should be real easy for us to find a bishop on Twitter or Facebook - the two most popular media. Google+, which I've dabbled with, seems to be growing, but is slow enough to make me wonder if it will really take off. In any event, we need to have flexibility built in to anything made on websites for emerging technology. You can't possibly keep up with everything, but must be dialed in to what is statistically the most popular tools in use, and be in these new frontiers.

One more thing I would recommend to clerics: be careful of banality. People are very hungry for direction. You don't have to comment on a particular current event, but you can pass along certain principles that may be relevant. Quote the saints and the Church documents. Arm the people with these things.

24/4/12 09:41  
Anonymous Maria Rioux said...

"In today's world, housetops are almost always marked by a forest of transmitters and antennae sending and receiving messages of every kind to and from the four corners of the earth. It is vitally important to ensure that among these many messages the word of God is heard. To proclaim the faith from the housetops today means to speak Jesus' word in and through the dynamic world of communications." JPII

24/4/12 11:49  
Anonymous Chris McCullough said...

I am a 48 yr old married (wife is a Methodist pastor) lay pastoral associate. I just started working at a parish in downtown Baltimore. As I look to the future of my pastoral work here, I see the need to learn much more about social media (SM). I personally have a Facebook account and have just recently added Pinterest and Twitter so that I may learn their value, to create accounts for the parish. I must echo others concern that it requires much more time in terms of monitoring things, especially Twitter. But I learned from working in High School, that kids and young adults are not using e-mail, but rather SM as means for communication. I see SM as a tool for evangelization. There are many who would probably never step foot in our (any) church and I see SM as a tool for reaching those folks. I also agree that it affords myself to stay connected to the church universal.

24/4/12 13:43  
Anonymous Fr Shane Johnson, LC said...

What an interesting discussion so far; thanks for starting it, Rocco. I'm 35, Legionary priest in NYC, ordained 2+ years but active in online evangelization since '99.

After a little more than a year surveying our (online/offline) Catholic world as assistant publisher at the NCRegister, I came away with two thoughts:

1) Polarization among Catholics seems to be on the rise again, leading especially to a renewal of centrifugal forces away from our bishops. The Internet's ability to create ghettos and echo chambers can fuel that. That's why I started BishopFeed, which has been an experiment in how to help us all see that our bishops are men of God and trustworthy leaders. You've been more successful at that mission, thanks be to God.

2) The Church's presence has largely stayed in the realm of safe fora, not venturing into cutting-edge forms of media and entertainment online, which is the main reason we're not reaching young people. That's why I've tried to experiment a lot with Tumblr, so I'm reaching a far younger demographic than, at least anecdotally from the responses so far to this post, you are. There is plenty of work to do if anyone else is willing to join us there... Of course, it means living in what one Tumblr user told me is "one of the nicer of the Internet's slums," but sometimes that's what being an online missionary entails.

Corollary to that: I recently asked the young people there if they spend time on any platforms where the Church is almost non-existent and a priest's help could be useful. They all came back and said YouTube... worth considering for all of us as video continues to skyrocket. Sure, Catholics are there, but the kids don't get that impression...

Summary: The Wild West keeps getting wilder.

Keep up the good work, Rocco. God bless you and all the good people who have responded to this so far.

24/4/12 15:28  
Anonymous Tominellay said...

I'm 62, a cradle Catholic with 16 years of Catholic school, including minor seminary, a retired Californian living in Croatia...Very important to me to follow news from the Vatican and from the Church in the U.S.A.; I read what I can find in English language, which is practically nothing except for news and blogs on the internet. Am very grateful to several bloggers I read regularly; have to compliment you, Rocco, on your style!

24/4/12 17:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art History!!! Your blog has a happy new follower.

24/4/12 23:34  
Anonymous Fr. Joe Geders, CM said...

I'm a 56 year old priest and Treasurer General of our Congregation. I live in Rome.

The new media serves two purposes in my life: connection and formational resource. It is a connection to family/friends/and church in the USA. It became a rich source of formation once I found a few websights and blogs that inform and inspire.

Because of my work, I find myself to be a consumer of new media and occasionally a relator of it (sharing particularly insightful or inspiring material with others). I am grateful for the efforts of so many who use it in works of evangelization.

I can see why Rocco is so proud of those who follow his blog. In reading these posts not only was I inspired, but found myself in the digital company of people I would enjoy spending time with in conversation.

I knew of "Whispers" long before I followed this blog. It had the sound of something like "Church Chat" and that kept me from reading it. I overcame my bias this past year, and discovered it to be a particularly rich source of things Catholic and a connection (in English) to the church in my native land. Thank you, Rocco.

25/4/12 11:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking at my 74th birthday in two days and have, as a former religious, high school and college teacher and practicing counselor, thoroughly enjoyed the transition from chalkboard to smartboard, from manual typewriter to IPad, from book to Kindle, from dial phone to smart phone, etc. The greatest source of continuing amazement for me, however, is access to endless resources via the Internet.
One of these resources is what friends and I fondly call "Whispers." I am amazed at the balance of stories, observations, musical interludes, 'advance notices,' that Rocco provides. He is balanced in his reporting and I would challenge anyone to 'label' him anywhere on the ecclesial or civil spectrum. He treats readers as adults...sorely lacking in most diocesan publications and church bulletins!
I appreciate that he publishes Vatican documents, episcopal installation homilies, and the like IN THEIR ENTIRETY,leaving each reader to draw his/her own conclusions. More years of the same for Rocco and folks like him!

25/4/12 18:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5o year old mother of two under 12 daughters from East Coast City. I browse the web for sites I like, and I'm on Facebook. (Don't tweet and don't know what tumblr is)

The internet has really helped me grow in faith. When I'm not running around with my children, I work full time at a very high stress job. Like everything else in my life: eating, exercising, etc, I need to grab moments of reflection on the run. The Internet/Facebook, lets me connect to things like this blog, the Loyola Press 3-minutes a day retreat, the Lent 4.5 program, e-mails from groups like the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, the list goes on.

The Internet really helped me this Lent prepare as I haven't for years, following the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. (Thanks, Lent 4.5)

I think a couple of downsides of the Internet are sort of necessarily intertwined with the upside. The ability to post anonymously allows people to express important thoughts freely when they might not otherwise be able to do so. When abused, though, it allows some to make irresponsible and toxic comments they might not make if their name were attached to it and they were held accountable for their remarks.

Similarly, there is a good side of allowing people to connect with other like-minded or not-so-like minded folks they wouldn't normally connect with. The obvious downside is maybe some people really shouldn't connect with each other (hate groups and such).

Another up/downside: the Internet has brought to my attention so many of the problems with our Church that I otherwise wouldn't be aware of. I guess the upside of that, though, is, if we don't all know about the problems, how can we fix them?

But I think the good of the Internet far, far outweighs the bad. I'm a more engaged Catholic because of it.

26/4/12 11:16  
Blogger Clearly Salmon said...

I 'm 48 years old, married with children. I live in England. I started a blog this past January because I needed to write about my Catholicism more often than I was around friends or family who were willing to listen.
I tweet about Catholicism and Christianity in GB; the secularist agenda; and pertinent societal issues affecting Christians.
A blog and Twitter allows me to keep up with news in Catholic circles and feel connected with others of like mind.
I enjoy sharing my Journey and hopefully those who come across my blog will be moved to investigate their faith further, or think about decisions they have made.
I in turn, enjoy being inspired by others'and learning from them.

26/4/12 18:42  

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