C3 Blog # 4 Device Sunday

On March 2, 2014, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Euphrasia, and St. Mels all from the San Fernando Region within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will celebrate “Digital Device Sunday.” As a faith community they will learn about how to grow in and share faith this coming Lent using social media or their various digital devices.

Parishioners have been asked to bring their digital devices (tablets, smart phones, etc.) to church on March 2nd and learn how those devices can be tools for growing in faith this Lent. As part of Device Sunday, there will be a blessing of both the digital devices and the social networks of people that will be formed to share faith this Lent.

This Lent the parishioners of these three parishes will have an opportunity to grow spiritually and share faith with others through a variety of digital faith-based initiatives. There are many ways we can be connected to our Lord this Lent both through out traditional practices and digital devices.

  • Each parish is developing a Lenten outreach to parishioners of all ages using various forms of social media.
  • The regional staff will off an opportunity for an online retreat for busy people.
  • Young people, young adults, and families will have the opportunity to share how they are making every day this Lent count for their faith through #40DaysCount where people will be asked to share photos and status updates using the#40Ddayscount.

As part of the C3 pilot sponsored by the Archdiocese, the San Fernando Region and the three parishes St. Mels, Our Lady of Lourdes, and St. Euphrasia are working together to pilot solutions for integrating technology into faith formation and evangelization, as well as how the many communication and collaboration tools may be used to further the gospel mission of the Church.

In a video, that will be played on Device Sunday at every mass, Bishop Wilkerson, the Regional Bishop for San Fernando quoted, Pope Francis who challenged us in his Message on World Communications Day to remember, “The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people.”

Additionally, he remind us of the importance of the internet in sharing the faith.

“By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone…. today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ.

The Bishop warned us to cautious in our endeavors in the digital world, by reminding us of what Pope Francis had to say about challenges of living in a digital connected world.

“This is not to say that certain problems do not exist.  The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression.  The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.  The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings.  The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us.  We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind. While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement. “

The Bishop specially, asked the parishioners of these three parishes to  I am asking join him in daily prayer and reflection by choosing one of the many options for prayer reflection. And, to think about the impact we could have if we reached out with the power at our fingertips to share faith and funny videos. And, to think of the impact each of us could have if we used our mobile devices to share you faith with your family, those you work with or your friends. Finally, he reflected in the video, about the picture attached to this blog, where Christ the Teacher is holding various modes of communicating faith through the centuries. He noted has this has evolved through the centuries and how it continues to evolve today!

If you would like to take time to read the words of Pope Francis as he enlightens and challenges us to live in faith in the digital world that surrounds us, here is the link:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20140124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali_en.html#

 

 

C3: What did we learn about using technology in #AdventOn?

C3SFPRCluster

This advent, the C3 project team implemented a variety of measures integrating technology into advent activities in the parish community and as a region. The biggest accomplish, which was also the number one objective for this part of the pilot, which was to create the foundations needed for an effective social media outreach. Each parish identified a social media coordinator and they were responsible for pushing out content to each community. Through training and coaching by Elaine Menardi, Social Media Expert the parishes learned new apps and tools for organizing their content. She also shared with them a simple scheduling tool in Excel format. The social media coordinators who hadn’t used HootSuite before were coached on setting it up and using it to plan, organize, and distribute the advent specific content to parishioners of all ages. I think the experience gained in Advent will help the parish.

Curated Advent Content: The regional staff and intern searched and identified a variety of social media content, including YouTube videos, daily prayer resources, blogs and items for spiritual reflection, etc. One thing we learned in doing is that while content can be found in advance of a church season there is content constantly being generated so we should have had someone continuing to seek out the new content and push it out to the social media coordinators. We treated the content as a static reality instead of an evolving one. Also, we learned that we needed to be sure that in curating content you check out the links on the

#AdventOn, Using Facebook with Teens: The Confirmation Coordinators, Youth Ministry Leaders, and the Social Media Coordinators from the three parishes collaborated on a project called #AdventOn. We developed four themes for each week with their own hash tags. Each parish and the regional office took a week and did a short video introducing the theme. Primarily we used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to push out links related to the weekly hash tag. We found general engagement difficult and hard to measure. Also, we found that some parents were actually engaged more than their teens. Were the young people just viewing it the content share social medai, but not adding to the conversation going on by liking it, or retweeting/sharing it, or by using the hash tags to add to it? One thing we questions was were they even on Facebook since one parish just used that app. There was recent article that address the question, “Are young people leaving Facebook?” Instragram seems to be the strongest among the teens that engage in using social media but due to the focus on images with Instagram some parishes have challenges using it due to social media regulations and parental concerns. In evaluating our efforts, we wondered why young people didn’t seem to engage and how to measure their engagement?

  • Where they waiting on their friends to join in first?
  • Were they concerned about being connected to a religious organization?
  • Did we use the wrong social media such as facebook?
  • Was it to complicated? Did we use too many hash tags? (Week one: #waitingon, Two: #NewHolyModernFamily, Three: #PinkIsTheNewPurple, Four: #babyjesus)

Ultimately, we decided that each leader would take some time to talk with the youth in our parishes that we were targeting to see what were the other reasons and how we can measure their level of engagement. I’ll share more about this as we get feedback from the youth directly and as we make plan for #FortyDays!

Advent Bible Study, If You Build it Will They Come: The regional staff hosted an online Bible Study reflecting on the readings of each week in Advent. Twenty-five people registered but only about a 5th of them engaged actively in the study. We are still evaluating this effort but some feedback from the project team seem to point to the issue that Moodle was to difficult to navigate and that while the content was really good finding the time during a busy advent and holiday season was the greatest impact on participation. This Lent we are going to try another approach, a short retreat in the middle of lent for busy people. There will be more to come later from regional staff, Kay Harter and Margaret Matijasevic on this regional effort.

Recording Advent Homilies: Other efforts that we undertaken with some success were the recording of homilies by priests to share on the website and social media. We discovered there is a need to have volunteers or staff who can edit the audio content prior to uploading it to the web.

QR Codes: Each parish became trained on using QR Codes and used them to promote various advent activities in bulletins and on flyers. One thing that is needed is a way to train parishioners on using QR codes.

Generally, it was a successful collaborative effort in my opinion because all involved learned a great deal through this initial pilot effort. Pilots are so important just for that reason, to give us ways to learn from our experience! Thanks to all those from the SFPR C3 Cluster that helped make our joint efforts so fruitful!