Steven Gies Capstone Story

The Digital Story Bookmark for a Hidden Gem
by Steven Gies

Eighty-nine years ago the community of St. Joseph’s in Randolph, Ohio,built a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes out of a gravel pit. A shrine considered by many, as one of the hidden gems in the Youngstown Diocese, it has brought to those visiting a spiritual experience of prayer and peace. As a parishioner and deacon to this parish I have had to ask myself how one can bring the story of this shrine, of St. Bernadette and of her apparitions to life to enhance those visiting and wishing to know the story.

So the first question to tackle was: How does one reach a younger generation? A generation considered to have grown up being socialized almost completely with images rather than words. Those under 40 have come to understand, experience, process, and make meaning in their world through what they see, supplemented and supported by what they hear or read.

What this all means to us is that words alone can’t open our hearts, souls, or minds as much as the way images do in today’s society. So how can we impart the stories of our faith that have been handed down to us to move and create an opening for the Spirit?

Stories built around images will help transform and move people to experience God in new and different ways and help to create pathways into hearts and souls. We also must seek ways that will make this relatively simple and allow the stories to go beyond barriers of time and space.

My capstone project as a digital disciple is to bring to life the story of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine to a new generation, breaking barriers of time and space, and help enhance ones visit to the shrine. The project began by looking at various pamphlets published on the shrine’s 50th and 75th anniversary. After which I met with and talked to longtime parishioners, who have kept the history of the parish with photo albums and newspaper clippings. Obtaining permission allowed me to digitize some of the photographs into my computer to be used in a digital storytelling movie on the shrine.

Pictures and prayers to Bernadette were obtained using various internet resources. Further research obtained information on each the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette. After obtaining this information it was determined to develop four digital stories; one on the shrine itself Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine Randolph Ohio , the second on The Life of St. Bernadette , the third on The Apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette and finally the fourth on Prayers to St. Bernadette and Our Lady .

Using a program called Cyberlink Media Suite the four movies were edited, put to music and produced so that they would download to YouTube as MP3 movies. The movies were then downloaded onto a YouTube Channel that was developed just for the shrine.

The original project called for QR codes to be developed for each movie and have them posted in various locations throughout the shrine. After reviewing how this would be accomplished it was determined that this would cause additional upkeep by maintenance personnel. It was also determined that because the parish is located on the fringe of some cell phone providers it may not necessarily work on some cell phones. Due to these concerns it was determined to make bookmarks that would contain a recent picture of the shrine and the QR codes. The bookmarks were made using Microsoft Word 10 template in which 5 distinct bookmarks both front and back were designed with 5 different photos of the shrine. The QR codes were added using a QR generator; taking the YouTube site locations and allowing it to generate the codes. The codes were then checked for accuracy and inserted onto the bookmark. The bookmarks were printed in color, laminated for protection and cut to size. The bookmarks were then placed in the church and in the shrine’s gift shop.

This change allows a parishioner and visitor to take the story of our hidden gem back with them as a keepsake of their visit. This is bookmark keepsake can break the barriers of time and space and allow the stories of our heritage and faith open the hearts, minds and souls of a younger generation; creating an opening for the Spirit to enter into our lives.