The faithful across the Diocese of Trenton are being encouraged to show support for Catholic media during the annual Catholic Communication Campaign May 15-16.

“Our mission is evangelization and to keep the great people of this Diocese informed on happenings in the local and global Church,” said Jennifer Mauro, managing editor of The Monitor Magazine. “This annual collection helps us tell their stories, and we are deeply appreciative for any help parishioners can provide.”

The CCC collection, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is designed to support the Church’s efforts to spread the Gospel message in both the United States and developing countries. The campaign is built around World Communications Day, which falls on May 16, with the theme “Come and See: Communicating by Encountering People as They Are.”

Half of all donations collected in the Diocese of Trenton stay in the Diocese to support local communication work, including the production and/or publication of videos, podcasts, website and social media content and The Monitor Magazine’s print and digital editions, all of which have been even more crucial with COVID-19 restrictions still keeping many at home.

While the communication needs have grown during the pandemic, support of the CCC decreased with limited church attendance.  Total collections in the Diocese reached well over $85,000 in both 2018 and 2019 but dropped to under $23,000 in 2020.  Church leaders are hoping to see the traditional level of support restored.

At a time when most Catholic families turned to online resources for Mass, faith formation and a sense of community, the Diocese’s Office of Communications and Media saw increases in both its media production and digital engagement.

A total of 105 videos have been produced in the last year, said Marianne Hartman, diocesan director of Multimedia Production.

Examples include pre-produced Masses celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and aired on diocesan media outlets; messages about pandemic-related closings/ re-openings of churches; words of encouragement from the Bishop, and special Masses for healthcare workers, high school graduates, a baccalaureate Mass and two ordinations. 

Hartman noted that a “Returning to Mass” instructional video was very popular, as was a recent video on the Stations of the Cross and the “COVID-19: Stories of Hope” series.

In the audio arena, Father Garry Koch, pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, continued to record his weekly “Catching the Word” Sunday messages on the diocesan SoundCloud channel, and Bishop O’Connell recorded 23 podcasts during the pandemic.

“A few years ago, we produced a DVD with the Bishop praying all four Mysteries of the Rosary,” Hartman said. “During the pandemic, the DVDs were released on SoundCloud, allowing people to download them for free. The Luminous and Joyful Mysteries are listed in the top three tracks that people listened to on Soundcloud.”

Other well-received media: Bishop O’Connell’s 2020 Christmas Message and pastoral Letter on the Presence of God.

All videos may be found on the diocesan YouTube channel, which has more than doubled its subscriber base since the beginning of the pandemic, growing to nearly 3,500. Spanish-language versions of these videos are available as well.

“Spanish-language communications have grown during the pandemic, as has the Hispanic digital community,” shared Matthew Greeley, coordinator for Spanish-language communications. “Facebook Live videos on Familia Vive Su Fe have been a boon for creating more online traffic with hundreds more followers and visits to PecesdeTrenton.org and Nuestra Diócesis Hoy, two of our main hubs for Spanish-language content for the Diocese. We are also producing more videos from Bishop’s Masses and messages in Spanish on our YouTube channel, CristoParaTodosDOT.”

Matthew Becker, diocesan coordinator of social media, also noted a boost in online visitors.

“We have gained over 2,000 followers across all platforms since the pandemic started,” Becker said. “Most of the traffic is on Facebook, which has grown by more than 1,200 subscribers since last March.”

Also supported by the CCC collection are the USCCB website, video productions and content development for USCCB committees.

In developing areas of the world where the Church is growing but resources are lacking, the CCC supports communications projects. It supports the Cardinal Foley Scholarship program, “which provides funds for training Catholic communicators from those areas of the world so that they have the tools necessary to spread the Gospel message in the 21st century,” according to the USCCB website. “The Catholic Communication Campaign helps connect people at home and abroad with Christ.”

To learn more visit https://www.usccb.org/committees/catholic-communication-campaign.