In a world flush with instant communication via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram, is it any wonder Pope Benedict XVI has taken to the social media sphere to share the Good News?
Last year from his iPad, the Holy Father used Twitter (@news_va_en) to announce a new Vatican website, and has since tweeted messages to thousands of faith-filled followers.
The Phoenix Diocese isn’t a stranger to the tidal wave of mass media. Its Communications Office leads the diocese’s internal and external communication initiatives to ensure the Church’s priorities are effectively expressed in a variety of ways between Church leadership, churchgoers, employees, parishes, schools, the public and the media.
A component of the communications strategy that is quickly growing is the diocese’s social media outreach, which boasts digital initiatives spread out over several of the popular social media websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Vimeo.
Robert DeFrancesco, director of communications, said vehicles used for communication and evangelization include the “critically important” Sunday Mass, broadcast live from Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral — alongside The Catholic Sun newspaper and website, Catholic radio and various websites.
Platform for the Church
Giving voice to the Church’s mission is the annual Catholic Communication Campaign. Catholics locally and nationwide will participate in the annual collection, taking place during Masses May 19-20. Half of all donations received from local parishes will directly benefit the diocese’s communication efforts.
“Today’s mainstream media and popular culture are increasingly hostile to Christians and religious liberty,” DeFrancesco said. “The Catholic Communication Campaign provides the Church a platform that cuts through the noise of what’s in the mainstream.”
DeFrancesco said donations to the Catholic Communication Campaign primarily support the Sunday Mass broadcast, which serves elderly and homebound Catholics who are not able to be physically present at Mass.
He said that some 65,000 people tune in each Sunday to the live television broadcast. The Mass is also simulcast on 1310 AM, as well as over the Internet, reaching thousands more.
“Thanks to the web, we are now bringing the Word of God to 900 cities across the United States and more than 100 countries around the world,” DeFrancesco said.
The national campaign ensures that the voice of the Church is broadcast over television, Internet, radio, newspapers and podcasts.
“Those who generously support the Catholic Communication Campaign understand the importance of Catholic media,” DeFrancesco said.
The task of sharing the Catholic Church’s worldwide vision and Gospel message of Jesus through mass media is as varied and diverse as the people who receive it.
The local audience includes 820,000 Catholics, 92 parishes and 35 schools; however, millions of Catholics gain a deeper understanding of their faith through resources they use every day.
Ana Sill, media relations specialist with the Communications Office, said social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have helped the mission of the Church.
“We are able to share important news with the Catholics of the diocese and around the world almost immediately,” Sill said. “Also, it allows our department to be more mobile. We don’t have to be sitting at our desk to get something out. We can post things from our phones, too, and share news and pictures in real time.”
DeFrancesco said it’s important to keep in mind that the diocesan’s mass media services are made possible by the generous support of the Catholic Communication Campaign.
“As Catholics, we are called to be evangelists — to bring the Gospel to the masses. It is critically important to be where the people are,” he said.
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A Catholic voice
The diocesan Communications Office is well versed in providing informed news, thoughts and perspectives on matters of faith and the intersection of Church and society.
It has a distinct Catholic voice that offers unique Catholic perspectives locally, nationally and internationally.
Each Sunday, the Catholic Mass is broadcast live from Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral at 9 a.m., on KAZT-TV (AZ-TV7, Cable 13), followed by local talk show, “Catholics Matter,” hosted by Fr. Rob Clements.
Every Monday the diocese’s locally produced radio program, “The Bishop’s Hour,” takes on current issues from a Catholic viewpoint.
Hosted by Michael Dixon, it is broadcast at 11 a.m. on 1310 AM Immaculate Heart Radio.
Listeners can catch an encore presentation every Thursday at 9 p.m. Information is available at www.thebishopshour.org.
The Catholic Sun newspaper is published once a month, with timely updates on the Web at www.catholicsun.org.
Catholics can stay connected with the Phoenix Diocese online at several sites: