Notes and Resources – Evangelizing and Catechizing Digital Natives

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Today I led a workshop for the Catechetical Leadership Association for the Diocese of Des Moines (CLADD). These parish catechetical leaders and I explored how to engage the “net generation” in their faith through the tools of the new media. Below are my slides and notes for the event as well as additional resources and recommendations for further reading.

Thanks again to John Gaffney of the Diocese of Des Moines for the invitation and to the great catechetical leaders I met today — thank you for your participation and for making me feel welcome among you!



My notes from today’s presentation are available as a PDF file.

Web Resources




photo by Steve Woods/stock.xchng

Free Webinar: Using New Media for Professional Development

Online platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, webinars, and podcasts offer amazing opportunities for connecting to catechetical resources and leaders across the country — and the world!

How can you use these tools to develop your skills as a catechetical leader? What resources are available? And what are the best ways to find these resources?

I will explore these questions and offer practical tips and resources for using new media for professional development as a catechetical leader during a free webinar on Monday, August 6, at 1p (Central Time).

You can register online for free at

This webinar is co-sponsored by the  National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors, the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, and the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

Video and Footnotes “ 9 ½ Social Media Strategies for the Church

Last night I offered a webinar on social networking tips and tricks for Catholic parishes, schools, and other ministries:

Thanks to everyone who participated! As promised, I’m including footnotes and suggestions for further reading:


Web Resources

Growing in Holiness through Middle Management: Part IV – The Kingly Ministry of Christ

Christ Driving the Money Changers Out of the Temple (Valentin de Boulogne, 1618)

(Looking for the start of this series? Go to Part I, Part II, or Part III.)

Of the kingly ministry, Pope John Paul II says

Because the lay faithful belong to Christ, Lord and King of the Universe, they share in his kingly mission and are called by him to spread that Kingdom in history. They exercise their kingship as Christians, above all in the spiritual combat in which they seek to overcome in themselves the kingdom of sin (cf. Rom 6:12), and then to make a gift of themselves so as to serve, in justice and in charity, Jesus who is himself present in all his brothers and sisters, above all in the very least (cf. Mt 25:40). (Christifideles Laici, 14)

Through the kingly ministry, then, we are called to overcome sin and Satan — through prayer and participation in the sacraments — and, through the life of holiness thus gained, to give that life as gift to others.

This is the “servant leadership” end of administration — our responsibility for overseeing that the organizations we lead carry out there missions. On the surface this may seem like the least interesting ministry we engage in — but in truth it is one of the most vital, for it is the bedrock on which a well-functioning organization rests.

Indeed, the most important job of an administrator is making sure that the right people are in place to carry out the work that needs doing. Hiring the wrong person derails your momentum, demoralizes good employees, and costs more time and money.

As a result, we need to take our time to make sure that we are hiring the right individuals. This includes knowing what qualifications, education, and experience the job requires “ not just hiring the pious mother who always attends daily Mass because “she obviously has an interest in churchy stuff.” Unfortunately I think we have many parishes where faithfulness is confused with qualification. While we certainly want the people working in our parishes and schools to be faithful Catholics, we also want them to have the qualifications necessary for the job.

Sometimes this will mean waiting to hire until the right person comes along. As I alluded to above, hiring the wrong person will ultimately cost more in the long run. Patience in the hiring process is a virtue and ensures that the right people are “on the bus” as Jim Collins puts it.

Exercising the kingly ministry also means ensuring that resources are properly allocated. This means budgeting! I know a lot of people hate filling out annual budgets (I do too!) but, as a vice-president of finance I worked with was find of saying: “Budgets are moral documents.” By that he meant that budgets tell us where our real priorities and values lie. If we say we want a robust youth ministry in our parish, are we giving the youth minister the resources necessary to carry out that vision? If we want to bring in new members, is there a line item for evangelization and the RCIA? These are hard questions, but necessary if we are honest about what it is we want to accomplish in our parishes.

Finally, the role of the kingly ministry means that we need to call a royal feast every once in a while! Celebrating our accomplishments and acknowledging successes demonstrates the virtue of hope. It is very easy to get bogged down by everything that is wrong in the Church — difficult parishioners, low Mass attendance, dwindling school enrollment. By celebrating the good that we do we remind ourselves that, with Christ’s help, we are bring about the Kingdom of God — and it’s not a fruitless struggle.

Video and Footnotes – Reaching Parishioners with Facebook

Tonight I offered a free webinar on using Facebook to build and strengthen relationships with parishioners. The video is now available:

The following are some additional resources and recommended reading:


Church Documents

Web Sites and Articles


Footnotes and Further Reading – Marketing Your School Online

Today I offered a breakout session at the 2010 Diocesan Adult Enrichment Conference on school marketing in the internet era. The following are footnotes and suggestions for further readings for the attendees:


Web Sites and Articles



Upcoming Webinar: Reaching Parishioners with Facebook

image by Br LLew OP/FlcikrCCNext   month I will be offering a free webinar on creating and maintaining a parish Facebook page:

With over 500 million active members, Facebook is the most popular social networking site online. Chances are that many of your parishioners are already there.

Is your parish?

This free webinar will explore why parishes should have a presence on Facebook and how they can connect with their parishioners by setting up a Facebook page.

Participants will watch step-by-step as a Facebook page is set up in real time. Tips will also be shared on how to make the best use of your page once it is set up.

While I’m focusing on parish pages, this webinar would also be ideal for anyone looking to set up a Facebook page for a Catholic school or other ministry.

The webinar will be held on November 17th at 7p (Central Time). To register, go to

This webinar is sponsored by the Office for Catechesis of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. I hope to see you there!

Episode 005 – InterActive Connections

005In just the short time since the Catechetical Leader podcast started there have been tremendous technology innovations that will effect the way we do catechesis in the future. From increased adoption of e-readers to the introduction of the iPad to the ever-expanding reach of broadband access, the Church will have to decided when and how to use these technologies to pass on the faith to a generation that doesn’t know any other way to process information.

This month we talk to a catechist at the forefront of these conversations: Sr. Caroline Cerveny, SSJ, is the founder of InterActive Connections, a faith-based educational technology ministry, and Digital Catechesis, a social networking site for technology-based catechists.

Be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think about the increasing importance of technology in the catechetical mission of the Church!

Click to Play – 005 – InterActive Connections

Tweeting Institutionally

A few weeks back a colleague in NCCL asked about how I make decisions regarding social networking on behalf of NCCL and my diocese. This was my off-the-cuff reply:

Some quick background: My criteria for making these decisions when acting in an institutional capacity is different than my criteria for my personal accounts, especially re: Twitter; for my personal account I’m pretty indiscriminate about who I follow, since I believe the value of Twitter is in making connections and self-limiting those connections diminishes that value.


My decisions about whom to follow via the NCCL Twitter account are based on two criteria: 1) Who has information relevant to our members? and 2) Who has need of the type of information NCCL provides? These two categories are not mutually exclusive; for instance, Nick Senger, as a Catholic educator, both tweets information pertinent to our members and can be a conduit through which NCCL information can flow to people not directly associated with the organization. So it makes sense to follow him and hope that he follows us (which he does).

Pursuant to the second criteria, this means that I’ve tended to follow anyone in a catechetical ministry in the Church as a way of establishing a connection with NCCL. This includes DREs, self-identified catechists and Catholic school teachers.

The first criterion is a little trickier since it requires a judgment call about the needs and values of our membership. I’ve picked the major catechetical publishers with a Twitter presence as well as groups and individuals that are representative of the broadness of the Church without straying outside the folds, so to speak. Figures such as Sr. Helen Prejean, Fr. Robert Barron or Christopher West, while appealing to different constituencies within NCCL, nevertheless stand firmly (and without major controversy) within the Catholic Church. On the other hand, if Fr. Charles Curran or Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, LC, (General Director of the Legion of Christ) were to start tweeting, I would not follow them, even knowing their appeal to some members of NCCL, due to their controversy within the Church.

My final criterion for Twitter is that anyone associated in a direct way with NCCL (past or current leaders, members) gets an automatic follow. Of course, this assumes I can identify them as being associated with NCCL.


Linking fan pages on Facebook is not as integral to the experience as following someone on Twitter. Because of the terminology in use, I’m a little more selective about linking our Facebook fan page with other fan pages. Following someone on Twitter doesn’t have the same connotation as being a “fan” of someone on Facebook; the latter implies a level of approval that isn’t present in the former.

To give a better example of how I handle Facebook, for my diocese’s Facebook fan page I have linked us to groups with whom we have an established institutional relationship (CRS, Catholic Committee on Scouting, NCYC) and the schools and parishes of our diocese. This might be a model for how to handle future Facebook links and other relationships.

Catechizing Digital Natives – Footnotes and Further Reading

This week I am giving a webinar on catechizing the “digital generation.” The following are footnotes and suggestions for further reading from the webinar:


  • Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey & Urs Gasser
  • Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott
  • Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning by Marc Pensky
  • Articles

  • Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants by Marc Prensky (PDF)
  • Do They Really Think Differently? by Marc Pensky (PDF)
  • How Digital Technology Has Changed the Brain by Don Tapscott
  • Life Support: What Young People Need in a Digital Age (PDF)
  • Using Technology to Get Teens to Pray by Nick Senger
  • Prayer Tools for Netizens by Nick Senger
  • 8 Myths about Digital Natives by John Palfrey & Urs Gasser
  • Interactive Connections, Issue 1
  • The Future of Reading: Don’t worry. It might be better than you think by John Green
  • Tapscott: Digital natives need tech-rich education by Laura Devaney (free registration required)
  • Why no one cares about privacy anymore by Declan McCullagh
  • Blogs



    If you watched the webinar, please leave a comment with your thoughts and reactions!

    photo by Steve Woods/stock.xchng