Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 14, 2008
Catholic evangelization with Youtube
Clerics using video website to bring Catholic faith to a new generation
By ALICIA AMBROSIO
"We have 50,000 people coming to the church - they're just coming in through another door," McCarthy said, referring to the number of hits the various clips have received on-line.
Collins is not the only Catholic cleric using modern technology as an evangelization tool.
During Lent 2007, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia posted a series of podcasts on Youtube. His reflections on the Gospel were among the most watched videoclips on Youtube.
Inside Catholic, a Catholic website where political and social issues are reported on and debated, posted a pro-life video clip on Youtube.
Countless other Catholic videos can be found just by using the site's search tool and keying in the word "Catholic."
A word of warning though,while inappropriate content is prohibited by Youtube, there is no formal screening process. Youtube relies on its users to flag inappropriate content, which is then reviewed by Youtube staff and removed if it is found to be inappropriate.
The lack of screening means that using the site's search tool turns up a shocking array of clips. Results range from Cardinal Rigali's Lenten reflections to a clip called Catholic Church Fashion Show from Federico Fellini's 1972 film Roma, to clips posted by viciously anti-Catholic groups and individuals claiming to "reveal the truth about the Catholic Church."
Using a little common sense and a more specific search word helps weed out the garbage and increase the chances of finding relevant clips.
Some of the hidden gems to be found on Youtube include a series of podcasts called That Catholic Show. The series is sponsored by The Rosary Army and is distributed on-line by Star Quest Production Network (SQPN).
SQPN is a multimedia organization focused on producing audio and video programs "faithful to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church." The organization believes the Catholic Church is called to use media "for religious information, for evangelization and catechesis and for formation and education."
Archbishop Thomas Collin's Toronto lectio divina series is available on Youtube.
SQPN also distributes a series of podcasts by Father Roderick Vonhogen, the Dutch priest who launched SQPN. Father Roderick's podcasts include a series called Catholic Insider, which documents his travel adventures, Catholic Minute, described as a "mixed bag" of videoclips and topics presented by Father Roderick and Healthy Catholic which documents Father Roderick's attempt to lose 25 pounds and train for a marathon.
Youtube has also been used by lay Catholics to expose liturgical violations carried out by some priests. Most notably, in the Archdiocese of Orange County, concerned laypeople recorded a "Halloween Mass" held at one parish, where parishioners and ministers alike were dressed in their costumes.
A minister of Communion was dressed as a devil. At another Orange County parish parishioners videotaped a woman being refused Communion because she knelt before the priest in order to receive Communion.
These and other clips were posted on Youtube and the website of various lay organizations in the archdiocese along with the contact information for Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Podcasting has also been adopted as a new tool in the public relations arsenal. Vancouver's Archbishop Raymond Roussin used podcasting to lead the faithful of his archdiocese in a revolt against Telus, the telephone, Internet and wireless service provider, when that company decided to make pornography available to clients via their cell phones.
Telus eventually decided not to offer pornographic material, citing an "onslaught" of complaints from customers opposed to the new service. It didn't hurt that Roussin also directed 130 Catholic schools and parishes to cancel their Telus services.
Meanwhile Facebook, the popular networking site, is host to countless pages related to Roman Catholicism, to specific saints and to various Catholic organizations.
These pages serve as a more informal on-line gathering place for Catholics of all stripes to exchange ideas and simply be aware there are other like-minded - and sometimes not-so-like-minded - people out there who share the Catholic faith.
Whichever site Catholics are logging on to in order to feed their faith, they are doing it in increasing numbers and more and more talented evangelists are making sure that spiritual seekers are finding what they need on-line.
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