I was honored to attend the 5th Annual Catholic New Media Conference this year in Arlington, Texas. This year’s conference was the first time it was a combined effort with two other conferences: the 4th Annual Catholic Writers Guild and the 16th Annual Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show. The CNMC this year offered informative and entertaining presentations for Catholic webmasters, bloggers, podcasters, and media producers. It was awesome to see many good friends as well as meeting many new people all working for the good of the Catholic Faith on the new digital continent.
After some flight delays with ACME Airlines (flat tire & fuel spill), I arrived in Texas and was blessed to experience a very inspiring talk from Immaculee Ilibagiza. She lived though the horrible genocide in Rwanda, Africa where three of her five family members were murdered in 1991. Immaculee hid in a bathroom with seven other women for three months to survive the genocide of over one million people. She said she believes she was saved by God in order to tell her story to the world. Immaculee’s was raised in a family who had a very strong Catholic faith, and a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Immaculee also said that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared ten years before in Kibeho, Rwanda to warn the people of her country and urged them to pray the Rosary to avoid this tragedy. Her documentary called If Only We Had Listened, is a must watch DVD (trailer below), and also available as a book . Immaculee exudes the Holy Spirit and joy with her presentations, and she is an inspiration to me and many. It was an honor to meet Immaculee and wish her all the best with her incredible ministry.
The 5th Annual CNMC started with great opening remarks by Fr. Roderick Vonhogen, who is the founder of the Star Quest Production Network. Fr. Roderick, from Holland, talked about how far Catholic New Media has come in the last seven years. It is amazing to think that there was no You Tube, Facebook, Chrome, iPhone, Apps or Twitter seven years ago, and how far we have come in such a short time. I am very thankful to the SQPN community and Fr. Roderick who inspired me through his podcasts to start my own blog, and now Catholic Web Services which have strengthened my faith ten-fold.
One of the great things about this conference was that it is centered around Christ offering daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, and prayer. The focus is on the Triune God, and despite all this great technology, books, and personalities–we all united as apostles in service to the Catholic Church. It was this faith-filled group of people that have inspired me to do great things in the upcoming Year of Faith.
The first day of the CNMC was Professional Learning Day with two concurrent sessions: the Main Track and the Tech-Summit. I was glad that a Virtual Ticket was offered this year, which offers recordings and links to all the presentations. This allowed me to see a bit of all three conferences in the Arlington Convention Center, and a great reference afterward. You can still purchase this option if you have not already done so.
Cliff Ravenscraft is an expert on podcasting, and gave a great presentation on the art of good podcasting and how he made a career serving the church. Cliff is a devout Christian, but not Catholic. Cliff formed a good friendship with Fr. Roderick, and has been very helpful to the Catholic community of podcasters. It was great to finally meet Cliff and admire his accomplishments in the profession of podcasting.
The Tech Summit was organized by Matt Warner and Jeff Geerling, who put together a bunch of great speakers for development of websites, Apps, and programming. It was great to meet so many people working on the cutting-edge of technology in service to the church, including: Josh Simmons, Dane Faulkner, Dr. Jim Coyle, Pat Padley, Rob Kaczmark, Brandon Vogt, and Bishop Christopher Coyne. I will be writing more in the coming weeks in this blog and at Catholic Web Services about the things I learned and other links to share.
Jeff Cavins came to speak about some new books and resources he has to share for the upcoming Year of Faith which begins October 11th, marking the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II. Jeff was previously Protestant Minister, and converted to the Catholic Faith in 1991. Jeff went on to start one of the most popular Catholic Bible study programs called the Great Adventure Bible Study Program, which was recently revised and we are offering at my parish this Fall. Jeff spoke about a new book for the Year of Faith called Walking Toward Eternity: Making Choices for Today. It is really a journal and DVD to help you “walk the walk” of Jesus Christ, and looks like a great resource to help on this journey toward God. Jeff reported that his wife told him this has made more positive changes in his life than anything he has done previously. Jeff was very enthusiastic about this new project, and his enthusiasm was contagious with the crowd who were excited to receive a signed copy of this book.
One of the real treats of the conference was the World Premier presentation of the movie Restless Heart. This movie is an accurate portrayal of the book, Confessions of St. Augustine. The acting and filming of this movie is top-notch in the art of movie making, and I highly recommend you see this film. Better yet, Ignatius Press is offering a proposition to bring this film to your community as a fundraising possibility. Check the links below for details. Following is the trailer to Restless Heart:
Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, gave a great speech at the opening breakfast on Thursday about his new book coming out about the Holy Trinity. He gave a wonderful talk about the Holy Trinity. I can not do it justice in this blog, but urge you to get his book when it comes on the market this Fall called, The ‘One Thing’ Is Three. Fr. Michael is also working on a project to bring the framed image of the Divine Mercy into every Catholic household during the Year of Faith. I will be writing details about this in a future blog post.
At the CNMC on Thursday, there were many great speakers who were filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with great ideas and stories they shared with us all. Super presentation by Elizabeth “The Achoress” Scalia on the New Media and New Evangelization. I love to follow her Twitter feed and writings at Patheos which have been very informative with my ministry.
Rob Kaczmark gave a fantastic and entertaining presentation about the Catholic Presence on You Tube. He really wants to urge Catholic Media producers to make high-quality productions, which require time, money, and talent. Rob showed us many examples of good, bad, and funny videos. Rob runs Spirit Juice Studios which have made some great videos which are impacting young people. Rob passed out a copy of Zombies vs. Jesus which is the video below:
Brandon Vogt gave one of the best presentations during the CNMC entitled How Mormons, Protestants, and Atheists Can Teach Us How To Evangelize On-Line. Brandon showed great examples of the use of media by these groups and lessons we can take from their success.
Bishop Christopher Coyne is one of the most active bishops on-line, and realizes the power of the internet and its ability to be used for good in service to the church. We were all honored to have the Bishop of Indianapolis at the CNMC, and shared his wisdom about in his presentation Being Bearers of the Good News within a Digital Culture. Following is a video from Catholic TV interviewing Bishop Coyne and others at the CNMC:
Thursday evening ended with dinner sponsored by Ignatius Press. Country Western singer Collin Raye talked about his daughter who had passed away at the age of ten from a neurological disorder, and is writing a book to come out soon about this tragedy that has deepened his faith. Collin also performed songs for the crowd including some from his recent inspirational album. There was also a presentation about a new initiative from The Vatican called Aleteia, a new website to help aggregate Catholic New Media which launches officially on September 20th–more details soon in a future blog post. Watch video below for a teaser:
The final day on Friday was the International Bloggers Summit. It was so great to meet so many Catholic bloggers including: Lisa Jones & Shelly Kelly, Dorian Speed, Sarah Reinhard, and Jennifer Fulwiler. Great ideas and bits of wisdom and inspiration from so many fellow bloggers–God Bless you All!!!
The Catholic Marketing Network show was like going to the biggest and best Catholic Book Store in the world. It had just about every Catholic publishing house and manufacturer of Catholic goods anywhere–I felt like a kid in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I was amazed at the large hall with so many booths of goods, with many free goodies for those in attendance.
The Catholic New Media Conference was the official launch of a new ministry called Catholic Web Services. Our ministry is to support an online community of Catholic webmasters, developers, social network gurus, and content creators who are willing to share their knowledge of web development and new media to improve parish, school, and Catholic organization websites. Membership to Catholic Web Services will always be free. We hope you will join our community, and we also launched a contest for a Kindle–check our website for details.
I want to thank the crew of SQPN, The CMN, and Catholic Writers Guild for hosting such a great conference. A special thanks to Steve Nelson who works so hard for SQPN to put this together every year. I am looking forward to next year and have many more blogs to write in the coming weeks, as there is too much to write for this one blog about my experiences and exciting things to report–stay tuned.
OTHER BLOGS ABOUT CNMC 2012:
21st Century Pilgrim Blog (Rise of the Digital Missionary)
Digital Strategy and Why You Need One (Pat Padley)