February 3, 2011 // Local

Technology aids evangelical efforts

Commentary by Today’s Catholic

February has historically been known as Catholic Press Month. And this week, a few stories focus on evangelization and how newspapers, radio and television — the traditional press — are tools that assist in making the presence of God and the work of our Church known throughout our diocese, nation and world.

But new media has also emerged as an important piece of evangelization. And Today’s Catholic has never shied away from employing new technology as a means of evangelization or providing Catholic news whether in the printed or digital form.

Last year, the Today’s Catholic News website was launched. It provides some of the newspaper’s content as well as updated stories from the Catholic News Service. Visit the site for photo slideshows, video, audio, archived copies of the newspaper and even the most recent copy of the newspaper.

Today’s Catholic offers a podcast — a 15-minute audio broadcast of the newspaper with selected stories. It can be downloaded on iTunes and right to your MP3 player. Or visit our website and listen there. The diocesan Communications Office makes the Podcast available on cassette tape and can be mailed to those with vision difficulties.

In this digital age we can e-mail a PDF (portable document format) of Today’s Catholic to our subscribers. It looks exactly like the print version. By receiving the PDF, you can help us cut our printing and mailing costs and “be green” at the same time. Readers can adjust the size of the print to their preferences.

Recently, Today’s Catholic and the diocese have joined in the social media: Facebook, Twitter.

Many diocesan departments are collaborating on the diocesan Facebook group as one cohesive entity. Diocesan department heads can share information about special events and other happenings around the diocese. We hope our Facebook fans will “like” us when visiting facebook.com/diocesefwsb and keep up on current activities across the diocese.

Similarly, the diocesan website, www.diocesefwsb.org, and Today’s Catholic News, www.todayscatholicnews.org, hosts a diocesan calendar. Visitors can look for events on the calendar, find out where the local parish fish fry or spaghetti dinner is being served, as well as the latest parish mission or prayer service.

On the diocesan site, plans are under way for a new Google map of the diocese. Each parish in the dicoese will be located on the map and include contact information and Mass times. Visitors will be able to sort by city, parish name or the map. This was a feature that many people said they missed when the site was redesigned a year ago. Keep an eye on www.diocesefwsb.org/map for the latest updates.

You might start noticing a symbol in print material that resembles a square bar code, referred to as a Quick Response or QR code. It is a tool that directs the reader to a website, video clip, perhaps a coupon or an Internet site that has value for the reader. You’ll notice a QR code on page 2 of Today’s Catholic. Again, it’s an effort to stay current with technology. As a consumer, you will need a QR reader application on your Smartphone in order to scan the code. To get the app, search for QR code readers recommended for your phone. Once it’s on your phone, scan QR codes with your phone and you’ll be taken to the site the company want you to see. In Today’s Catholic’s case, the QR code takes you to www.todayscatholicnews.org.

Perhaps someday soon you’ll be reading Today’s Catholic on an electronic reader, a device such as the iPad or Kindle, where Catholic news would be delivered right to you. No paper, no recycling. And it offers extras: audio, video, slideshow capabilities.

The world of communications is changing quickly. Who would have thought just a few years ago how iTunes would revolutionize the way we purchase music? Or that we could download homilies from our parish pastors and listen on our phones and MP3 players.

It’s an exciting time to be reaching out to the world and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking about the new media last November, has asked the Church to seek to commit itself to its mission of communicating the Gospel “with renewed creative dedication, but also with a critical sense and attentive discernment” of the new modes of communication available today.

While the Church works to improve the way it presents its message and show God’s true face, the pope said it will also seek to “purify, bring balance to, and elevate” the best characteristics of new media and forms of communication so that new technology can be of service to the entire world community.

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