The Apostles used the Roman roads to carry the Good News of the Gospels to a waiting world. Face-to-face evangelization is still the gold standard, but one can only imagine the reactions of Peter, Paul and the rest to the engagement possibilities of today’s information superhighway.
Like any road, navigating this one requires skills, so education is imperative to reaping maximum benefits and avoiding pitfalls.
On Aug. 11 and 12, at Loyola Marymount University on Los Angeles’ Westside, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles sponsored the 2015 edition of the Catholic Communication Collaboration (C3) Technology Conference. With workshops and speakers, it sought to open the minds of attendees — including many Catholic educators — about to use modern tools to inform, engage and attract believers.
The Tuesday keynote speaker was Lisa Hendey from Fresno, the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the author of several books.
Her talk focused on the ways that educators and others can build social media and blogging teams. It began with the story of how a wife and mother with no formal training began as a volunteer school webmaster and eventually built a sizable network of contributors on all subjects touching the Church and the family.
Centered on her parents’ injunction to her to “always err on the side of generosity,” Hendey offered both theory and practice. But along with online tools and practical advice on how to “engage the global Church locally,” Hendey emphasized that, unlike the secular online world, it’s not all about clicks and metrics.
Sometimes it’s about saving a single soul.
Hendey related the story of an unwed pregnant teen who emailed her in a state of despair, because her family was about to throw her out. Her voice cracking, Hendey said that the woman’s daughter just celebrated her 10th birthday.
She also urged listeners to find a nearby — or virtual — “plus one” to walk the path with them, citing Christ’s intent to send his Apostles out two by two.
Hendey’s whole talk, along with the one from her fellow keynote speaker, Father Brendan McGuire, can be found at livestream.com/randomhouzeproductions/C32015.
In conversation the next day, Hendey said, “The main mission of yesterday was to encourage people that the work that we do in the digital space is a ministry, in the same way as being a lector or being a musical minister. The ability to use these tools in the New Evangelization is not just to get the Sunday bulletin online.
“We should be able to use those tools … to help people journey towards Christ. That doesn’t always mean numbers or analytics or the traditional results. What I hope people walked away with was a sense that all of us, including me, a wife, a mother, are part of the universal nature of the Church’s message of evangelization.
“We each have a role to play with our own spiritual gifts, our own communications skills. Everybody’s is going to look different, but we’re all part of that.
“Whatever the latest thing is, that’s where we need to be.”
Other workshops focused on developing spiritual awareness in the digital space, new ways of designing curricula, using tech to teach history, Google Classroom (classroom.google.com), teaching teens how to use smartphones in good ways, Internet law, email best practices, great apps, online learning, the Drexel School System (by Father McGuire) and learning to code.
Other speakers included graphic designer Ani Akopyan; Our Sunday VisitorSenior Campaign Consultant Liz Coon; education-technology visionary Thomas Greaves of The Greaves Group; online-safety experts Cynthia Lieberman and Diana Graber of CyberWise and media commentator/blogger Sister Rose Pacatte of the Daughters of St. Paul.
For more information on the C3 initiative, go to www.la-archdiocese.org/org/c3/.