Bringing Vincentian Millennials to the Faith

by | Jul 25, 2017 | News, Social, Social Media | 1 comment

It sounds odd, doesn’t it? … bringing Vincentian millennials to the faith? If a person is a Vincentian, why would he or she need to be “brought to the faith?”

My friend Kery Alys Robinson tweets about a variety of things. Recently, she highlighted an op-ed piece in the Stamford Advocate entitled, “Bringing millennials to the faith through social media.” The author, John Grosso, is leader of social media efforts for the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the USA. In the piece, John wrote:

When I share that with my co-workers in ministry, they are often upset, but not necessarily surprised. For years now, we’ve heard the narrative that people are leaving religious institutions in droves, particularly the Catholic Church. There have been a number of explanations presented by theologians and sociologists alike, but there is not “one” answer for why people are leaving.

I began to wonder, how many good Vincentians of the millennial generation– perhaps people who were very active in service and active in practicing their Catholic faith during high school, college and shortly thereafter have drifted away? Why? Where are they? He further asked, if we were going to reach out to them

How do we conduct an outreach to a group that is suspicious of outreach? How do we share our Good News with a group that is apprehensive at best, and skeptical at worst?

I think we need to be asking those questions, too. I have met many young people who were actively practicing their faith in high school, entered a Vincentian University, got involved in service, but no longer practiced their faith in community. If we were to reach out to them, John notes that we must meet them where they live. He proposes that there

is the need for authenticity and vulnerability in our different media outlets. Young adults these days are searching for deeper meaning in the midst of their chaotic lives. In a world where lives are lived on social media, where we are bombarded with advertisements and noise, young adults (like myself) crave authenticity. They want someone, or something that is real and tangible. They desire something stable, something comforting, and something that helps them make sense of their crazy lives. As a Catholic, I believe that something is actually someone, and his name is Jesus Christ.

Research and practical attempts provided a resource. In mounting a social media effort, the Diocese of Bridgeport found

that young adults on our pages respond strongly to our short videos, authentic reflections (from parishioners), and strong spiritual graphics. Most of all, though, they respond to their Bishop, who is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, posting daily reflections, prayers, and meditations.

As a Vincentian Family we have the framework for the deeper meaning that people are seeking! It is the person of Jesus Christ as interpreted for us in the life and teaching of Vincent de Paul. We have an authenticity of a lived Gospel that is very attractive. A judicious and authentic use of social media can spark the imaginations of those who still have a Vincentian heart, but may have lost touch with the practice of their faith in community, and may have lost touch with Jesus. It calls for a new evangelization effort. What must we do? Here’s a suggested start:

  • Post short videos and memes, but not sickly cartoonish, religious trash. Young people are looking for authenticity and truth. Make short videos based on your encounter with Christ in worship and service. Invest your time and your money in production value.
  • Post authentic reflections (from from real, young Vincentians), and strong spiritual graphics. Leave childish images to children. Don’t lift graphics from elsewhere. Create!
  • Leaders: you need to be active on social media daily! Make it a priority. If you still think you cant do it, appoint a ghost writer. Learn to delegate some of your administrative and institution-conserving tasks and dedicate time to evangelization.

And all of us, need not only to “Like” what we see, but SHARE it with our friends and the world.

 

1 Comment

  1. ogbu obinna frednard

    thanks , I was really encouraged by this article. as a youth Vincentian in Nigerian who has put in much effort in evangelism and promoting Vincentian charism through social platforms etc. msy the lord help us

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