Diocese of Joliet
I believe that technology is no longer a possible option, but rather a necessary option. The digital age is upon us, and we as ministers can bring Jesus to this world and use it as a platform to evangelize. God’s people are living in the digital world. We simply need to be open to the possibilities and seek out the training we need in order to provide His sheep with the opportunities to meet the Good Shepherd there.
As the volunteer parish facilitator of the Baptism prep workshops, leader of our moms group, and one of the directresses for the families of our children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program in our parish, I have witnessed the importance of the digital world. Many parents have easy access and reply quickly to digital forms of communication. In addition to my ministry in catechesis, I have recently acquired advanced skills in technology applied to ministry through the online course, Digital Discipleship Boot Camp. I was beginning to sense a need to couple catechesis with technology, and to envision the possibilities.
Our parish adopted Loyola Press’ Finding God curriculum for 1st through 3rd grade for this upcoming year. This curriculum includes a piece of Sacred Art each week for the children to reflect on with a passage from Scripture. Our Director of Faith Formation saw this as a great opportunity for our catechists to learn and be led through the prayer form, Lectio Divina, and then Visio Divina, which simply adds an additional step with Sacred Art. She wanted the catechists to be comfortable with the prayer forms on a personal level so they could more confidently lead their families and the children in their classrooms through it during the year.
We created an online presentation using Haiku Deck, and then used TeamViewer as our online classroom to include our participants at home in the discussion. With TeamViewer, catechist participants could view the presentation from their home or work computers. We were also able to record the webinar, then used YouTube to upload the recording and embedded it on our website, and finally we used SurveyMonkey to create evaluations for our catechists to fill out so we could see how this was benefiting their personal prayer life as well as how comfortable they were with leading their students through this process. All of these technology tools were free to use. In preparation for each session, we gave the catechists a handout with five basic questions for them to use as a guide to work through Lectio/Visio Divina.
This project has allowed us to see the beauty of charisms at work by collaboration in action. By collaborating with the Director, she and I were able to use the very different charisms that God has given each of us in order to help a whole group of people. She was the teacher/presenter and I was the technology support! Regardless of the gifts given, they are all important. Finding someone to partner with allows God’s work to be done in a magnified way. He intends for us to use our gifts in conjunction with each other’s gifts. Not everyone has to be skilled at technology – as long as one person is! Not everyone has to be a gifted teacher – as long as one person is!