The Catholic New Media Conference has been around for seven years now. It has been on my radar for the past two or three. The Lord said last year, “I don’t want you to go right now” by allowing Hurricane Isaac to move through my area. This year I finally was able to attend.
What was interesting to me, at first glance, was that the biggest voices for Catholic New Media (at least in my mind, this is certainly not a definitive or representative list) other than Fr. Roderick Vonhögen, were not present. Names that come to mind are Elizabeth Scalia, Brandon Vogt, Lisa Hendey, Greg Willits, and Matthew Warner. These six have, over the past few years, become the voices for the Church to establish itself in New Media. They are big name missionaries on the Digital Continent. Ms. Scalia was slated to be there but illness prevented her presence. The other four were out in the world, called in different directions proclaiming the good news. They, in a sense, show that the community of digital missionaries is growing and the import of evangelizing in this territory is gaining traction.
After these initial impressions, three threads seemed to run through everything.
1) The Movement of the Holy Spirit
Obviously, or maybe not so obviously, the Holy Spirit brought each one of us to Boston. That became apparent to me at the opening mass, in the chapel of the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of Boston. Above the altar, hanging from the fanned ceiling was an image of the Holy Spirt, gilt in metal, hanging like a censer. I saw that and knew the Spirit had something in mind. Furthermore, Fr. Roderick’s homily called us to trust in the Holy Spirt who will give us what we are to say.
I found there to be a great joy, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, amongst the community. Even when the dreaded topic of trolling came up multiple time ist didn’t stall conversation, like a troll tends to do, but rather the conversation called us to be compassionate, merciful, and fortitudinous (more on that in another post, I promise).
Finally, throughout the day it felt organic, it didn’t seem forced or prideful but rather felt like a communal docility to the movement of the Spirit.
2) Building Community
Whether it was stated as such or not, the conference was intended to provide formation for missionaries on the digital continent. To that end, it is essential for missionaries to know they are connected to a community. It gave St. Francis Xavier strength that he had Jesuit brothers working toward the same end in a different vineyard, and it built him up when he spent time in community with them. An isolated missionary will not succeed, he/she needs to be connected to a community. The conference provided that avenue to enter into and grow in community with fellow missionaries.
My buddy, Billy Newton, over at the Blog of Courtier reflected on this aspect in greater detail.
3) We can’t just preach to the choir
I found, at various times and from various mouths, that (like this very post in fact) I or another is producing media directly to the Catholic niche, to the exclusion of those lost sheep. (Don’t get me wrong this ministry is important and vital. However, due to the nature of the digital continent all niches become global in reach. Hence, it is necessary to reach out to those outside the niche.) Multiple times it became apparent that we have become comfortable with the ninety-nine and not actively seeking the one lost sheep. This is indeed a challenge to myself moving forward.
To conclude, I loved my time in Boston. I got to spend time with old friends and make many new ones. I take away with me the desire to blog here more and fulfill what I myself have said much during this year of faith, “Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”