“St. Paul would have a video blog on the Internet.” So says, church media professional, Dan Houze. Dan is one of many people who work to make media part of ministry in dioceses and parishes. He works at St. Monica Parish and has been instrumental in setting up the system for weekly live streaming of mass and other events.
I live in residence at St. Monica Parish and have seen the good that parish based media ministry offers. Here are five reasons to put services and events on the Internet.
1) Pre-Evangelizaiton to seekers who are going to the Internet for answers to their questions about live and faith. The recent positive attention on Pope Francis has many people giving the Catholic Church another look. Internet streamed media can show them who we are and the great message of life and hope we offer.
2) Invitation to come join in person. At a Parish Mission at St. Monica’s this last Lent, the presenter gave a talk on forgiveness and reconciliation, which was streamed live. After the talk, there was opportunity for confession, that went on for several hours. We had a number of people who had watched the live stream at home and been moved, by it, get in their car and come to the Church for confession.
3) Outreach to community members who are shut-in or unable to be present at services live. Internet media does not replace the obligation to be at Mass, but for those who cannot make it due to health, travel or care of others this can fill a bit of the gap. The technology is growing user friendly enough that it is accessible to people who are not pros on the WWW.
4) Variety in preaching and music, giving people a chance to hear preachers and music ministers with diverse styles and approaches. These days, with limited numbers of clergy, many people hear the same priest or two, if they are lucky, every Sunday. Internet clips give them a chance to go to mass in their own parish, but also later to watch another priest or deacon preach. It may also be a way for someone who lives in another country to hear mass in their native tongue.
5) Reflection on past preaching. Some homilies are worth hearing more than once. When people hear one that moves them, they can go back and listen to it again.
Coming up soon: resources for forming parish media ministries.