I was very pleased to attend the 4th Annual Catholic New Media Conference held at the Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. There were religious and lay people who attended from all around America and Europe, who came together in prayer, and to learn about new media (podcasts, blogs, websites, social networks, and Apps) in today’s church. It was amazing to finally meet many of the people with the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN) who are podcasters and bloggers who have inspired me to also start this blog.
I went to this conference for three reasons:
- To help me learn more about this communication medium and get some guidance from experts in this field.
- Since I am an Ambassador for Word on Fire Ministry, I came to promote The Catholicism Project and Word on Fire.
- To finally meet the great SQPN community and network with others in the new media field.
This conference exceeded my expectations. First, it was faith-filled, and the focus was always on living a prayerful and faithful life to the message of Jesus. The many people I met were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and had great ideas and strategies to help promote the Catholic Faith in this time of need using the power of the internet.
I will give a synopsis of the this two-day conference:
This was the first time that the CNMC was held for two-days. The first day started with a celebration of Mass with Father Jay Finelli (iPadre podcast) from Rhode Island, and concelebrant Father Roderick Vonhogen (founder SQPN and The Break podcast) from The Netherlands. It was also the Feast of Saint Jerome, a priest and Doctor of the Church, who is the Patron Saint of Librarians. It seems appropriate that we have this feast day to start the CNMC that features the largest library on earth–The Internet! The first day of the conference featured workshops from four people working the new media field around this year’s theme of the “Social Network.”
It was a real honor to finally meet the founder of SQPN, Father Roderick, who was my introduction to podcasting when I got my first iPod, which opened up a new world of Catholicism to me and strengthened my faith. I was also very excited to meet the other podcasters that I am big fans of from the SQPN family: Father Jay Finilli (iPadre Podcast), Dr. Paul Camarata (The SaintCast), Captain Jeff (Catholic Weekend & Secrets of Pan-Am). It was also an honor to meet Greg Willits who was an original member of SQPN, and later went on to Sirius/XM Radio to start the Catholics Next Door show that is heard in America and Canada.
The first two workshops were hosted by Matt Warner and Jeff Geerling, who both work for Flocknote. They offered very good information about new technologies and use of the social networks effectively for community building, and evangelization. The both emphasized its not so much about the technology, as it is about relationships and building a community through listening and responding. Flocknote is an interesting system that a parish can subscribe to that offers a closed social network and messaging for a parish and their ministries–worth checking out. Jeff also programmed an aggregate news reader App of many Catholic news sites called CNL App, which this blog uses also.
The second two workshops were from two of the founding women on the internet. Lisa Hendey from catholicmom.com who spoke about building social media in the parish community. Lisa also has two great books, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and just published A Book of Catholic Saints for Catholic Moms. I ask you please keep Lisa in your prayers as she is continuing drug treatments for post-breast cancer. Pat Gohn, of Behold Communications and Among Women Podcast, gave a powerful presentation about using new media, and related the image of the gospel when Jesus asked Peter to be “fishers of men” and related that we are doing the same on today’s internet with faithful use of the power of this new medium.
We also had two other times of prayer on Friday with Father Jay Finelli who did a marvelous job leading us in Vespers and ending the evening with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. I thought that it was interesting that we said the Mysteries of Light on Friday rather than the traditional Sorrowful Mysteries, maybe because this is with new media and the internet features use of light?
On Saturday, it was the feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower), and we began Mass celebrated with Bishop Christopher Coyne (Archdiocese of Indianapolis). Bishop Coyne gave a wonderful homily about Saint Therese saying that “The Little Way” to holiness, is a good guide for us as we take little steps on the internet that help guide others toward Christ. Bishop Coyne is an active bishop on the internet and has his own blog and also has a Twitter feed. It was honor for everyone to have two bishops at the CNMC.
The first speaker we had was the Nunblogger, Sister Anne Flanagan. Sister gave a great talk about the Pauline Order and their founder, Blessed Father James Alberione (1884-1971), who was one of the first to promote the use of new media with radio, film, books, and TV, to spread the faith with new media. There is also a fundraising campaign right now to make a film about his life–take a look at the moving film clip at the movie website. The Pauline Sisters were there in great numbers thanks to new women just joining the apostolate and attending the CNMC with a great selection of Pauline books and media.
During our lunch break, we were treated to the premier of the first Catholic Sit-Com called Mass Confusion. This Sit-Com will be shown on Thanksgiving Day on Catholic TV and is sure to keep you laughing. Greg and Jennifer Willits (Catholics Next Door on Sirius XM) and Mac and Katherine (Catholics in a Small Town on SQPN) have joined with their families to make the new series that is sure to offer needed programming that has been lacking in Catholic TV. The crowd at the CNMC was engaged and laughing at this new show and I give it a thumbs up.
The next speaker was Sean Patrick Lovett who has worked for Vatican Radio for 35 years. He gave a wonderful talk about the storied history of the Vatican Radio program and all the different Popes he has served under. Mr. Lovette also led the discussion panel with all the speakers present to talk about Catholic New Media and where it is going. I was pleased to hear author Brandon Vogt speak highly about The Catholicism Project and that it represented the three things that New Media need to include in their productions: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Mr. Lovett is a great story teller and motivator, and I can see why Father Roderick was drawn into his calling with new media by having him as a professor at The Vatican.
The evening continued with a prayer service with Bishop Joseph Naumann (Kansas City) who was host to this event in his diocese. Bishop Naumann gave a brief statement that he supports the work that we are doing with the Pope’s call for New Evangelization with Catholic New Media. I was very excited that he stopped by my table and also gave his support for the work of Father Robert Barron at Word on Fire Ministry and The Catholicism Project.
The last thing I was able to attend at the CNMC was the World Premier of a great new film called The Mighty Macs. This a G-Rated film that is the true story of the first women’s basketball championship in 1972 where the under dogs from Immaculata College won the game. It is truly a great film and a must watch for the whole family. This film is coming to a theater near you on October 21st.
Thanks to everyone at the CNMC and SQPN for making at a great and faith-filled experience. The 2012 CNMC was announced as being in Dallas Texas in August. Hope that the seeds planted from this conference bear fruit, and it was so nice to see so many good people working on so many fine projects for the church.