In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the importance of social media as a communications tool was highlighted as Facebook was used as a major tool for local information gathering, community organizing and fundraising. St. Francis Parish on Long Beach Island was one example. Since Long Beach Island was evacuated and residents were not allowed to return for some time after the storm, the pastor gathered the community together using FB to communicate with parishioners as they began to assess the damage and begin recovery efforts in the area. Members of St. Rose, Belmar, another example among many, organized a hugely successful parish clean-up day in the wake of the storm using social media.
If social media can be so effective in crisis situations, what about our day to day lives in our Catholic communities?
A recently published report by CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) noted that, although nearly half of Americans use Facebook at least a few times a week, few incorporate technology into their practice of worship or to practice their faith. Does this mean that we should put our energy elsewhere? Or does it point to something else?
The same report by CARA reports that only 13 percent of Catholics report their parish has an active Facebook page. Why would Catholics look to social media to help support their faith if 87% of parishes don't have anything helpful there in the first place?
The communication tools we have at our disposal in our modern era are unparalleled in human history. We are called by Christ to spread the Gospel. So what are we waiting for? Is your parish actively using social media? Tell us about it!