We are very blessed in so many ways by our recent popes, not the least by our charming current pontiff, Pope Francis, who exemplifies a lively, humble, and cheerful interest in engaging with the world via digital communications. His example should be an encouragement to us as we seek to heal the world through the saving message of life in Jesus Christ.
In 2009, at the 43rd World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI called the world of cyberspace “the Digital Continent,” and called for the whole Church to explore it, learn its ways, and claim it for Christ. He was the first Pope to use a Twitter account (@pontifex), prayerfully engaging the huge and rapidly expanding world of micro-bloggers 140 characters at a time.
Seven years before, Blessed Pope John Paul II said the following at the 36th World Communciations Day:
“The Internet can offer magnificent opportunities for evangelization if used with competence and a clear awareness of its strengths and weaknesses. Above all, by providing information and stirring interest it makes possible an initial encounter with the Christian message, especially among the young who increasingly turn to the world of cyberspace as a window on the world…
“The internet causes billions of images to appear on millions of computer monitors around the planet. From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only when his face is seen and his voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption. This is the purpose of evangelization. And this is what will make the internet a genuinely human space, for if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man.”
I’ll be speaking at local parish here in New York, tomorrow morning, about how to use digital resources to enhance our teaching of the Faith to a plugged-in, over-wired generation of children and teens.
I’m off to Sacramento’s Ministry Days conference (Sept. 27-28) (#ministrydays2013 for Twitter fans), where I’ll be teaching in four sessions, two of which deal with technology.
In the interest of helping catechists to better utilize the wonders of digital communications in their ministries, and with an awareness of the great value of some of the available technologies for our own personal growth, I have compiled a partial list of resources that I think will be of help, including a few books (near the end). These resources have not been listed in order of importance but loosely grouped to help you navigate your way through them. I have provided URLs for many of the sites, but not for books or most of the blogs, since they are easily found through simple searches. (I had two hours at the library to get this done. My head was spinning!)
Please note that every columnist at Amazing Catechists has a uniquely valuable blog, which offers many insightful and practical recommendations for further inquiry. Go check them out!
There is so much more, so please do comment below and add your own favorite resources using technology and teaching the Faith in our plugged-in culture. Let’s pool our goodies and help each other out. If we’re going to claim the Digital Continent for Christ, we’ve got to find ways to inhabit it intelligently and effectively.
Here we go!
Follow Pope Francis on Twitter!
Follow Cardinal Timothy Dolan (New York) @cardinaldolan
Follow Cardinal Sean O’Malley (Boston): @cardinalsean
Other GREAT Follows to add to your list:
@usccb @lisahendey @sullijo @religionteacher @jareddees @badcatholicblog @theanchoress @mattwarner @ellengable @cathfambootcamp @patgohn @mcardaronella @woleary3 @tanjamaltija @dorianspeed @peerybingle @jennifer_fitz @kareesantos @lisamladinich @paprockij
Some popular hashtags on Twitter:
Search: #catholic, #cathmedia, #rediscoverfaith, #marriage, #prayer, #BXVI, #pope, #evangelization, #confirmation, #giveaway, #amazing
GREAT FREE Webinars for Catechists
JonathanFSullivan.com https://www.jonathanfsullivan.com/ (superb! Jonathan also has a great podcast and blog)
Jared Dees https://www.thereligionteacher.com/ (free webinars hosted by Ave Maria Press, Jared is terrific! See: https://www.avemariapress.com/webinar-videos/ )
Want to Learn More About Technology?
CathlicMom.com https://catholicmom.com/category/tech-talk/ (reviews, discussions, insights on apps and new technology)
Catholic Tech Talk https://www.catholictechtalk.com (Catholic online social community and network covering gadgets, social media and web development)
Open Source Catholic https://www.opensourcecatholic.com/ (helping Catholic web developers spread the Good News more effectively)
The Real Presence: https://www.therealpresence.org/ (Loads of historical information related to approved Eucharistic miracles. Great reading!)
Also: search: “Pope Frances Eucharistic miracle video” and be amazed.
Cutting Edge Online Catholic Initiatives
CatholicMom: https://catholicmom.com/ (Digital home of Lisa Hendey, an incredibly gracious and generous person, this site is rich in free catechetical resources, Sunday Gospel activity downloads, reviews of technology and books, catechetical puppet scripts/skits by Yours Truly, and much more)
Lighthouse Catholic Media https://www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org/youngAdult (LCM has great download-of-the month club for young adults called Truth Be Told in addition to their wonderful CDs, books, CD of the Month Club and Military Download of the Month Club) (thanks for this tip from reader Julia Brandimarte)
Catholics Come Home: https://www.catholicscomehome.org/ (great youtube videos and TV commercials that have inspired many lapsed Catholics and non-Catholics to come home to the Catholic Church)
Word On Fire: Father Robert Barron: https://www.wordonfire.org/ (See: Fr. Barron’s DVD sets: “Catholicism,” and “Catholicism: The New Evangelization,” and his superb Youtube series. Search his name and “youtube” to find many short, extremely engaging lectures on various topics of faith and culture)
Flocknote: https://www.flocknote.com (Superb, affordable, easy-to-use communications for groups, schools, parishes, sports teams, and more)
National Catholic Bioethics Center: https://www.ncbcenter.org/ (features 24/7 call line for emergencies regarding end-of-life and other pressing bioethical issues)
Strange Notions: https://www.strangenotions.com/ (hip and humble dialogue between Catholics and atheists)
Also: Brandon Vogt: Great guidelines for combox behavior https://www.strangenotions.com/commenting/
Patheos.com (Catholic portal) https://www.patheos.com/Catholic.html (Top columnists and bloggers from the Cathoic world, covers a wide range of topics)
Theology of the Body Institute: Damon Owens: https://www.tobinstitute.org/default.asp (superb)
Dynamic Catholic: https://www.dynamiccatholic.com/ (hip, cutting edge resources for engaging Catholics)
eCatholicWebsites: https://www.ecatholicwebsites.com/ (easy-to-use site-builder for Catholic parishes and groups – great customer servic)
Ascension Press: https://ascensionpress.com/
New Evangelizers: https://newevangelizers.com/
Imagine Sisters on Youtube or at their website: https://imaginesisters.org/ (fresh, exciting videos for encouraging girls to consider consecrated life.)
Lifeteen: https://lifeteen.com/ (parish youth programs centered on the Eucharist and acts of service, learning opportunities, and community building.
SQPN https://sqpn.com/ (truly awesome Catholic Podcasting Network)
Fisheaters.com https://www.fisheaters.com/ (all sorts of great Catholic info including daily and monthly liturgical dedications)
Also: EWTN, Catholic Answers, The Integrated Catholic Life, Busted Halo, Whispers in the Loggia, Bad Catholic, New Advent
Sites for interaction, activism, engagement (note: many of these sites also have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Consider having catechists and/or students “donate” their posts once-a-month to promoting a worthy cause!):
America Needs Fatima: https://www.americaneedsfatima.org/
40 Days for Life: https://www.40daysforlife.com/
Priests for Life: https://priestsforlife.org/
Catholic Vote: https://catholicvote.org/
AFA (American Family Association): https://www.afa.net/
AUL: Americans United for Life: https://www.aul.org/
ALL: American Life League: https://www.all.org/
One Million Moms: https://onemillionmoms.com/
There are also numerous sites for fighting pornography and human trafficking, defending traditional marriage, supporting the missions, helping wounded veterans, and much more. Check with your diocese for mission trip opportunities!
Apps for ministry and personal growth (search these names online for more information):
Missio (FREE: the first official Vatican app, packed with features you’ll love)
Ibreviary (FREE: app and website for praying the Divine Office)
Universalis (website for praying the Divine Office)
Divine Office (app for praying Divine Office, has sound and visuals that are really neat)
RosaryPlus (great Rosary app)
iRosary (great Rosary app)
iConfess (helps prepare you for the Sacrament of Reconciliation)
Laudate (FREE: app with many, many features. PACKED.)
Ignio (FREE: networking and tracking for toning up your spiritual life)
Lectio Divina (app for praying and reflecting on scripture, writings of the saints and more)
“The Church and New Media,” by Brandon Vogt
“Forming Intentional Disciples,” by Sherry Weddell
“The Everyday Catholics Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours,” by Daria Sockey
“Prayer in the Digital Age,” by Matt Swaim
“Walk Humbly With Your God,” by Father Andrew Apostoli
“The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” by Nicholas Carr
Fr. MD’s Kitchen Table: https://www.frmd.org/ (video homilies and answers to reader questions in sign language for the Deaf. Includes voice-over tracks for hearing visitors)
Online SAS (Software as Service) Sites for Project-Oriented Learning (mostly FREE):
Almost everything in this category was recommended by Carmen Lagalante, whose superb blog, “Jesus Teacher Tech,” https://www.jesusteachertech.com/ features examples of projects done with each of these and more.)
Pixton: https://www.pixton.com/ (FREE for making digital comics that express stories, concepts, dogmas – only limited by your own imagination)
Socrative: https://www.socrative.com/ (student response system uses games, exercises, quizzes, polls – can be used in and out of class)
Vuvox: https://vuvox.com/ (make slide shows and digital collages, add music – great for unpacking scripture stories and lives of saints)
Easel.ly: https://www.easel.ly/ (create info graphics online for exploring statistics, flow charts, other ways of making nuts and bolts information that underlie tough issues more visual and accessible – easy for kids to use themselves)
SEE Carmen’s blog for many more great resources and brilliant teaching ideas! https://www.jesusteachertech.com/
Other great online resources:
Armored Penguin: https://www.armoredpenguin.com/ (make your own crossword puzzles, word searches, and more)
Discovery Education: https://www.discoveryeducation.com/free-puzzlemaker/?CFID=2145475&CFTOKEN=85236279 (make your own puzzles, mazes, quizzes — many different types)
Zoomerang.com (more make-your-own goodies)
Prezi: https://prezi.com/ (A very cool online alternative to PowerPoint!)
ePals: https://www.epals.com/ (A safe, protected social network for K-12 learning and cooperative efforts with students from all over the world.)
Kidblog: https://kidblog.org/ (Safe blogging for students, privacy protections, WordPress platform.)
Together at One Altar: https://www.togetheratonealtar.catholic.edu.au/craft/dsp-content.cfm?loadref=35 (colors of the liturgical year, vestments)
FREE Images for Classroom and Internet Use
National Gallery of Art
Any Government Sites
Here’s a terrific article from The Integrated Catholic Life: “Thinking, Living and Embracing Life on the Digital Continent.”
Excellent post on collaborative projects from “A Cyberpilgrim.” https://acyberpilgrim.org/2013/07/12/collaborating-for-faith/
Discussion of Mimio vs. Smarboards vs. Promethean boards: https://elementarytechteachers.ning.com/forum/topics/smartboard-vs-mimio-vs-promethean-boards
Stats on Youtube use: https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html
EMAIL as a BRIDGE from the Catechist to the Homes of Our Students
Thanks all! Don’t forget to comment and add your own uplifting, insightful, useful, practical tips and resources!
Oh, and thanks for not griping that everything is so thrown together, here. It’s all I had time for, today, but I hope to get back into this post and create live links for you, soon. I hope these copy-and-paste URLs and resource titles will get you started just fine, for now.
Blessings in Christ,
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