Parishes should engage “tech savvy” young people and encourage them to be ‘digital missionaries’ the Primate of All Ireland has told The Irish Catholic.
Archbishop Eamon Martin agreed that as many people active in parishes were not familiar with social media, young people can be the answer to spreading the Gospel online.
This was a discussion point at the synod of youth in the Vatican last October, he said: “The young people who were present said ‘we will do it for you, we know how to operate the digital world. You need to call us and then empower us and give us the opportunity to do some of these things for you’.”
They may not do it the way we think, he continued, saying: “They’ll do it the way they know how to do it, and how they know will reach their fellow young people.
“God is already gifting people and we have to have the eyes to see it and the courage to call forward these digital missionaries.”
His comments come in the wake of the ‘Believers in the Digital World: Opportunities for Mission’ at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth last week – organised by the Irish Bishops’ Conference – which saw several digitally savvy people give advice and warnings about social media use.
Archbishop Martin warned of the need for parishes to make sure content on their social media platforms is vetted and appropriate.
He said that “the world of communications is vast, it’s instant, everyone’s a communicator, everyone’s a reporter nowadays and that’s sometimes what happens in a parish where with the best of intentions they establish a social media platform but they don’t realise that it needs somebody to be, I’m going to use the word policing it, but actually what we mean is somebody to be overseeing and co-ordinating, removing offensive content.
“This is what happens, all the major newspapers are having to do this, all major media – the Church is no different because sadly there are people who don’t think before they type or before they post something and it’s very easy to post something which can be offensive so I think people are aware that this is the real world and these things are happening so the Church needs to be responsible as does everybody in society.”