The importance of technology and digital evangelization was quickly pushed to the forefront for parishes during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.  The need to reach out and bring Christ to the faithful via livestreaming and social media proved to be an important and necessary tool in remaining connected to parishioners.

Now, with the Church throughout the world traveling together on the Synodal journey, parishes in the Diocese of Trenton are continuing to utilize these technological tools in the hopes of extending the invitation to participate in the Listening Sessions of the Synod to their extended parish faith community.

In addition to more traditional forms of parish communication such as the bulletin and email, St. Rose Parish, Belmar, has used their Facebook page to share information regarding the Synod and how parishioners can become involved in the Listening Sessions. Recently, Msgr. Edward J. Arnister, pastor, filmed a video in which he explained the significance and importance of the Synod that was later shared on the Facebook page.

“The Synod experience of listening to each other is to be inclusive of all active and not so active Catholics, those who are part of the ministries of the Church and those who are not, those who come into the Church at Mass to receive the Sacraments and those who no longer come. We want to hear from all of you,” he said in the video.

Ginny Blasi, parishioner, maintains the parish social media platforms and sees the value of social media in reaching those parishioners on the periphery.

“Social media is a tool to connect with different members of the parish and beyond,” she said. Blasi is currently working with Sister Donna D’Alia, pastoral associate for catechesis, in connecting with the younger members of the parish.

Links to Google Forms, where interested participants may sign up for Listening Sessions online are used, as well as TikTok videos focusing on ways the parish is hoping to engage more people and encourage participation in the Synod.

Late last year, Msgr. Richard LaVerghetta, pastor, St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton, introduced his parish to the Synod and filmed the discussion which can be viewed at any time on the parish website. Also on the website, individuals are invited to register electronically for at least one Listening Session in the parish.

St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, has also found success using Google Forms on the parish website and adding QR codes to paper handouts, which can be easily scanned on mobile devices, bringing information directly to a person’s cell phone or tablet.

“We are looking for different ways to get the word out and make it easy for people to register for the Listening Sessions,” Lou Monticchio, facilitator for pastoral planning, shared.

St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish also uses their parish social media pages to keep the community involved with the Synod. The cover photo for the Facebook page, which has over 1300 followers, includes information on how to register for Listening Sessions. 

“We feel like this is a historic moment in the universal Church,” Monticchio stated, “We are looking forward to using the information from the Sessions to inform our pastoral priorities moving forward.”