Local priests, religious, lay people use blogs to evangelize

By George Gregory
Special to The CS&T

In a message embracing the evangelizing potential of electronic and digital media, Pope Benedict XVI recently encouraged priests and religious around the world to use web sites, videos and blogs as tools of pastoral ministry.

“Priests stand at the threshold of a new era, and as technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word,” the Pope said in his message preparing for the 2010 celebration of World Communications Day, which will be observed on Sunday, May 16, in most dioceses.

The Holy Father’s words resonated with many priests in the Archdiocese who already use blogs to enhance their ministry.

For those who may not be familiar, the term “blog” is a contraction of the words web log, and is basically an electronic log book or diary. Just as the captain of a ship keeps a log to store and share information with the crew, priests communicate reflections and information to their parishioners or community members through blogs on a regular basis.

Father Ronald Check, who is the parochial vicar at St. Monica Parish in Philadelphia, titled his blog “Seek His Face” (fatherchecksblog.blogspot.com) and offers daily spiritual reflections and occasional catecheses.

“It is my hope that this web page will be an extension of what the good God has already called me to do in my service as a parish priest,” he said. “And I pray that it brings greater glory to Him.”

Father James McGuinn, pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, records videos of his homilies each Sunday and posts them on YouTube. These videos can also be accessed through the parish’s web site (stmarymanayunk.com).

Father Gregory Hamill, who is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Oxford, has “Father Hamill’s Blog” (frgregoryhamill.blogspot.com) which he uses to share pictures and links to various religious web sites. Most recently, he posted pictures from Catholic Schools Week with Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McFadden celebrating Mass at the parish.

And priests aren’t the only ones in the Archdiocese blogging.

Sister Ann Marie Slavin, O.S.F., works in the communications office of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. She has a blog titled “Franciscan Life” (franciscanlife.blogspot.com) in which she posts information regarding community events and celebrations.

“My blog describes my life as a Sister of St. Francis, and I enjoy sharing my interests, as well as views on issues of justice,” she said.

In addition to priests and religious, lay Catholics in the Archdiocese regularly blog about their formation, as well as news or issues related to their faith. CS&T spiritual columnist Michelle Francl-Donnay writes several blogs: “Quantum Theology” (quantumtheology.blogspot.com) and “Philly Catholic Spirituality” (phillycatholicspirituality.blogspot.com) among them.

Nancy Caramanico, director of K-12 technology for the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education, writes about technology and education in “Techconnects” (ncara.edublogs.org); the director of the Catholic Standard & Times (standardtimephila.blogspot.com); the sports/associate editor (schoolyardstories.blogspot.com); and the managing editor (followingthelede.blogspot.com) all maintain blogs as well. A listing of other Catholic blogs can be found at catholicblogs.blogspot.com.

As with Cardinal Rigali’s Facebook page (facebook.com/CardinalRigali) and other forms of social media used to engage the faithful in new ways, blogs offer priests an almost unlimited capacity to preach and give witness to the Gospel.

George Gregory is a member of St. Cecilia Parish in Coatesville.