Submitted by the Catholic Education Committee of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council
The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) holds a key function to provide reflection and input to the Cardinal from the perspective of Catholics throughout the Archdiocese. The APC consists of parish pastoral council representatives from deaneries throughout Cook and Lake Counties representing all of the vicariates of the Archdiocese of Chicago. APC members are active in their parishes and deaneries. Representatives contribute input received from local discussions, as well as from their own perspectives. Further input is provided by APC standing committees that meet prior to the APC’s General Meeting.
The APC’s General Meeting was held on March 15, 2014 at the Archbishop Quigley Center. The APC discussed Cardinal George’s third issue of the 2013‐2014 fiscal year. “Forms of communication are rapidly changing in society with the growing prevalence of video and social media. How might parishes use these communication methods today to teach the Gospel?” Bishop Francis Kane, Vicar General, represented Cardinal George. Bishop Kane listened to the delegates’ interaction, but did not comment on the discussion.
Before specific ideas could be delineated, some general paradigms were mentioned. The Archdiocese and individual parishes need to realize that they are part of a larger, broader global economy and culture in the twenty first century. Communication today is instantaneous when it is received in real time on hand-held satellite connected communication devices. Since his elevation to the Papacy, Pope Francis has used social media to address the world at large on a daily basis. One is able to put the “Pope App” on his/her device. Now the Archdiocese and local parishes need to follow Pope Francis’ and the Vatican’s examples to the best of their ability.
During their discussion of the issues, the APC representatives related three predominant responses of people in the Archdiocese to the Cardinal’s question.
1. In order for individual parishes to enhance their communication methods, first they need to receive assistance from the Information Technology and Office of Communication and Public Relations departments of the Archdiocese. Before assistance can be shared, these departments need to reassess their current functions so that they can better meet the needs of the parishes. Model social media policies and procedures need to be established so that they reflect best practices of technology, privacy rights, legal issues, and safeguards necessary today.
2. Once the Archdiocese has updated their website and become more user-friendly and put in place model social media policies and procedures, local parish leadership must be made to understand that every parish has a responsibility to embrace video and social media as soon as possible. Maintenance of all the systems is essential to the success of future programs. Some of the monies collected at the Archdiocesan level in the “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign should be earmarked to assist every parish in this endeavor because this is the new way to evangelize. Working collaboratively with the Presbyteral Council would enhance its’ implementation.
3. Common uses of current parish websites include posting weekly bulletins, calendars, meeting notices, Mass schedules, members of the Parish Pastoral Council and other basic information. But once every parish has embraced the state-of-the-art communication tools, the possibilities are endless as to how the tools can be effectively utilized. Current best practices should be shared throughout the Archdiocese at the deanery and vicariate levels. Some parishes are already on the leading edge of video and social media communications. Examples of their practices include weekly written posting of all Sunday homilies, videos of homilies, streaming Sunday Mass, tweets from the Pastor, current Facebook page, email blasts tailored to specific audiences and parish pastoral council blogs.
Video and social media help all of us to do things better, more effectively and in a different way “To Teach Who Christ Is.”