Flashback, August 2010: We are standing in our kitchen in suburban Des Moines, Iowa, on a beautiful summer day, staring into a laptop screen watching the UStream feed of the 2010 Catholic New Media Celebration (CNMC) while intermittently entertaining our two-year-old daughter. Somehow we got enough out of Fr. Roderick & Cliff Ravenscraft’s talk to convince ourselves that not only could we be a part of Catholic new media, but that we should, and most importantly, that we were being called to it.
So first things first; we had to claim our little digital plot of land. But, to actually register a domain name, we had to ask the fundamental question, “What are we going to call this thing?” We had some good ideas; we had many bad ones, too. The good ones were all taken and the bad ones were, well, bad. While pruning our rose bushes and hashing out ideas the next day, we settled on The Practicing Catholic — praise God the URL was available for purchase. And that’s how we gave birth to our blog.
As Practicing Catholics, we always remain open to life. Soon after giving birth to our blog, then came the unexpected blessings of a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Now we had the big happy digital Catholic family we always dreamed about. Of course, we still remain open to life . . . podcasting anyone? Anyway, in the midst of caring for and feeding our three new hungry digital children (they do have to be fed with content, after all), a funny thing happened. We started to meet lots of other Catholics from across the country, and even the world, also engaged in new media. There were authors and bloggers, podcasters and broadcasters, Catholic professionals and stay-at-home parents, singles and marrieds, all on fire for Christ and passionate about lighting that same fire in others.
Over the course of this year we became part of a community, one that extends well beyond our parish and diocese, across the country and even beyond, truly underscoring the universal nature of the Catholic Church. We virtually linked arms with people around the globe who we may never meet and assumed our share of the “responsibility for the evangelization of this ‘digital continent’” that Pope Benedict XVI referred to in his message for the 43rd World Communications Day.
Then the 2011 CNMC landed in Kansas City, Kansas, just a three-hour drive from Des Moines. We enthusiastically registered for the conference. And a funny thing happened. Suddenly this all became personal . . . actually personal.
We had the opportunity to shake hands with and hug people with whom we had only shared blog posts and tweets. And we made some new friends, too. Friends like Seàn-Patrick Lovett who we look forward to having coffee with at the Vatican one day (he’s the voice of Vatican Radio, you know, and just happened to be in Kansas City last Saturday!), or husband and wife dynamic duo Aaron and Amanda who live right across town and are equally enthusiastic about Catholic new media (is a Des Moines Catholic New Media group in the offing?).
In short, the weekend was all about relationships. Both the experience of attending and the message of the conference was about forming relationships with one another and more importantly with Jesus. The message we took home is social media is not broadcast media. It’s more about forming relationships than simply publishing content.
So thanks to all of you who continue to enrich our lives by drawing us deeper into a relationship with Jesus through your faithful online presence. We are honored and humbled that so many of you are praying for us. Please know we are praying for you, too! We look forward to continuing to build and beginning new relationships with our Catholic new media community.
We’ve saved the date for CNMC12 in Dallas, Texas. Have you? Hope to see you there!