ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF SAULT STE. MARIE
************************* Reaching beyond the pews: Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie launches podcast on second anniversary of DeoWeb
Rev. Anthony Man-Son-Hing, pastor at Christ the King parish, now preaches 24 hours a day through his This Foreign Land podcast, a series of recorded Sunday homilies available through the Internet.
A podcast is a series of audio episodes that can be played on a computer or a mobile device like an iPod.
Fr. Tony's podcast is one of only a handful of Catholic podcasts on the internet.
While many Protestant churches have openly embraced the online world, the Catholic Church has been slower to go online.
The Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie is proving again to be an exception.
Initial response has been positive.
One listener, after hearing the very first podcast commented: "...you're really bringing the Church into the modern age!"
Another listener commented: "I see great possibilities in this venture."
The launch of the podcast is part of the Diocese's second anniversary celebrations of bringing all parishes online through the DeoWeb initiative.
People can have fun learning about DeoWeb by playing DeoHunt (www.diocesessm.org/birthday), an online scavenger hunt.
DeoWeb is an innovative solution designed to make communication easier for people at all levels of a diocese, from diocesan staff to pastoral volunteers to people in the pews.
Each parish has its own web site and information is shared through an online newspaper, integrated newsletter and internal messaging tools.
While many dioceses have focused solely on diocesan office communications, the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie is the first in North America, perhaps worldwide to empower parishes as well.
Growing the faithful online
The idea to create a homily podcast came from Gerry Kirk of Faith Online.
Faith Online provides the DeoWeb solution and works closely with church organizations to integrate online communications into church life.
"Other churches have experienced growth in large numbers directly from podcasting," observed Kirk. "People of all ages, but especially young people are looking online to meet spiritual needs. Once they connect online, they then want the full experience of community with real people and pews."
Fr. Tony agrees. "While continuing to feed those who come to pray with us, we want to reach out to the growing numbers of unchurched and invite them too to discover or deepen a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the community of believers who worship Him."
The pastor has also launched an online confirmation preparation program designed with busy parents in mind.
The web gives them easy access to material intended for discussion with their children, and fewer meetings to attend.
Other priests in the diocese are now showing interest in this approach.
People can listen to or read Fr. Tony's homilies online and then come meet him at Christ the King parish located at 30 Beech Street in Sudbury, Ontario.
Mass times are posted on the site.