Catholic_Omnia_Logo_1.pngThe date was May 8, 2008. The Thomas Pringle Vocation Blog had finally gone live and I began this wonderful journey of sharing my story as a young man discerning God’s will for my life. The first year or so the few readers that came across my blog were mostly friends of the family and those from my parish who wanted to keep in touch with me as I studied in the seminary. As my time in seminary progressed and I shared more on the blog, I began making connections with Catholics from around the country who were just as interested in sharing their own unique journey of faith. Though my time in seminary ended, I still felt a calling to continue sharing my story, playing my own unique part in the New Evangelization.

As I was beginning to make the transition to life outside of the seminary, I knew a change was also in store for what I wrote and how I wrote it. Logically, that also meant that my blog would also need to undergo a transformation and receive a new life of its own. And so, Catholica Omnia was born on April 10, 2010.

Since that time, my understanding and love of the Church has grown tremendously. My life has been–and will continue to be–enhanced by my experiences with the Church. I have come to know so many people who express the same love for the Church that I feel in my heart. I’ve made many friends along the way. We’ve shared many joys and sorrows, many triumphs and struggles. Heck, some of us have even shared a beer or two…or three.

We all bring certain gifts and talents to the Church. And throughout this past five years, I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to share my joy of writing with you all. While I may not have gotten everything right initially, you all allowed me to grow and challenged me to be a better writer. You encouraged me to share from the heart and to not be afraid to venture outside of my comfort zone. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And, after 5 years, 6 months, and 25 days it’s time to say goodbye to Catholica Omnia.

Over the past couple of years, I have neglected to give the blog the amount of time and energy it has deserved. And, as job-related responsibilities and other projects begin to take up even more of my time and energy, maintaining the blog on a consistent basis is simply just not possible.

Coming to this decision has not been easy. I’ve consulted many friends and family members in the last few weeks. I’ve even been praying about this decision. I’ve even considered changing this site into an aggregate blog site, bringing different bloggers together to share their experiences of the faith. But, that route would require even more time and energy, unfortunately.

With that said, what all does this mean? What’s next for me? There are a couple of projects that I’ve been floating around the last few months, one of which is a new blog that I’m adding to my personal site to discuss Catholic communications and stewardship. My recent post on here ’5 Essentials for Parish Communications’ was a test post for that. There is also another project that I’m gathering input on that I will hopefully launch within the next few months. Stay tuned for more on that one.

So, I’m not going away. I’ll still be active on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, although the accounts for Catholica Omnia will be shutdown in the coming days. I’ll still be covering news of the Church, just not in a blogging format. And, I’ll still need your friendship and will be counting on your support when I need it the most.

I do just want to close with one thing…THANK YOU! Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you these past five years. I’m honored that I’ve been able to share in your experiences of the Church and that I’ve been welcomed into this community of online Catholics. We’re here for each other in so many ways. We build each others’ confidence and lift each others’ spirits. But most important of all, we point each other toward Christ, who is the source of all that we have and all that we can offer. He is the reason we do what do, He has made us who we are. And, if we continue challenging each other and helping each other grow, we will continue to build up the Body of Christ in all that we do.

May the peace of Christ dwell in all of you. Pax et bonum.

-30-


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St. Charles Borromeo

saintc10Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, patron saint of seminarians and catechists. Charles also happens to be my favorite saint.

Saint Charles Borromeo was born on October 2, 1534 in the Castle of Arona to Giberto Borromeo and Margaret de Medici. When Charles was 12 years old, he received the tonsure and was sent to study at the archabbey of SS. Gratian and Felinus in Milan.

In 1559, Charles’ uncle, Cardinal Gian-Angelo de Medici, was elected in conclave as Pope Pius IV. During the early stages of the Pontificate of Pius IV, Charles was named the Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop of Milan, and Protector of the orders of St. Francis, the Carmelites, the Knights of Malta, and the Knights of the Holy Cross of Christ.

In 1562, Charles played an instrumental role in convincing Pius IV to have the Council of Trent reconvened because of the great need for reform in the Church. When the Council ended in 1563, the Reformer, as he would come to be known, oversaw the compilation of the Catechism, the missal, and the breviary. In 1556, Charles finally moved back to Milan, taking the helm of the Archdiocese, and overseeing many drastic reforms. These reforms made the Archdiocese of Milan a model for the rest of the Church.

Throughout his time as Archbishop, Borromeo instituted reforms in the fields of the morals and ethics of clergy and established seminaries to educate future priests. In 1578, Charles founded the Oblates of St. Ambrose, which was later changed to the Oblates of St. Charles. Throughout his time as a Cardinal Archbishop, Charles called for multiple synods, preached the Gospel fervently, opposed the gains of Protestantism, and brought many former Catholics back to the Church.

Charles Borromeo died on November 3, 1584 in Milan. He was canonized a saint by Pope Paul V on November 4, 1610 and is the patron of catechists, seminarians, spiritual directors, bishops, and catechumens.

St. Charles Borromeo introduced to the Church multiple reforms that were desperately needed to combat the growing tide of Protestantism. For the modern world, Charles can teach us to always remain faithful to our values and to always act in a moral, ethical way. Charles can also teach us to always persevere in carrying out actions that we believe are ethical because he instituted so many reforms for the Church, something that was opposed by so many.


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St-Charles-Borromeo

Prayer of St. Charles Borromeo

Almighty God, you have generously made known to human beings the mysteries of your life through Jesus Christ your son, in the Holy Spirit.

Enlighten my mind to know these mysteries which your Church treasures and teaches.

Move my heart to love them and my will to live in accord with them.

Give me the ability to teach this faith to others without pride, without ostentation, and without personal gain.

Let me realize that I am simply your instrument for bringing others to the knowledge of the wonderful things you have done for all your creatures.

Help me to be faithful to this task that you have entrusted to me.

Amen.

Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Collect for Mass:

Preserve in the midst of your people, we ask, O Lord, the spirit with which you filled the Bishop Saint Charles Borromeo, that your Church may be constantly renewed and, by conforming herself to the likeness of Christ, may show his face to the world. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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communicateThroughout the last week, after returning from this year’s Catholic New Media Conference in Boston, I have had some time to reflect on the many ways parishes communicate. As the Coordinator of Stewardship and Development at a parish in Florida, part of my job responsibilities include maintaining all of the parish’s communications. In that role, I have developed a basic understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. So, some thoughts…

First of all, there is no doubt that social media has revolutionized the way the world communicates. In many ways, it is the printing press of our generation. Those of us who utilize the various social networking sites are fortunate enough to be the founding fathers (and mothers) of something that will continue to transform our interactions with the culture. In other words, social media is not just a fad; it’s here for good!

With that in mind, however, it’s also important for us to realize as a Church that not everyone is comfortable in using this new medium. Therefore, parishes and Catholic organizations cannot simply abandon traditional communication efforts. Sorry to say it folks, but the parish bulletin isn’t going anywhere just yet.

So, what’s a parish to do? How is a parish to communicate its message in this 21st century world?

Below is a list of 5 simple things parishes (and any Catholic organization) should be doing in the area of communications to reach out to their parishioners and the larger community.

1. Create a dynamic and user-friendly Website.

Yes, believe it or not, there are parishes out there that still do not have a website—or, that have a website that was last updated back when I was in diapers. To be honest, there is no excuse for it. Nowadays, the parish’s website provides people with that ever-important, first impression. If the website provides recently updated information, highlights pictures of parish events/ministries, and looks halfway decent from a design standpoint, there’s a good chance it’ll attract people to give your community a shot.

There are so many great and affordable resources available out there that can assist parishes with getting a website setup or revamping a website that needs a facelift. Pastors might check out CatholicWeb, eCatholic Websites, or Catholic Web Services—to name a few. All of these companies do great work for an affordable price tag.

2. Develop a presence on Social Media.

Within the last couple of years, parishes and dioceses around the country have begun placing a greater emphasis on the role of social media in their communications. Setting up an account on Facebook and/or Twitter is simple—all you need is an email address, an idea for a username, a password, and a picture or two. Once the pastor or parish employee gets the initial setup completed, you can start tweeting or updating your Facebook status.

Managing social media accounts can seem like quite a daunting task. Many times, parishes lack the resources to put information together and send it out on a regular basis. However, spending an hour or two each week planning a strategy for the parish’s social networking channels can go a long way. Ask the pastor if there are any particular messages he wants to highlight during the week. Ask other staff members—youth ministers, pastoral outreach coordinators, etc.—if they have something they want to advertise. Then, develop a schedule for the social media posts. Thankfully, there are services available on the internet (HootSuite, for example) that can help with the scheduling of posts…you put in information, set the date and time you want it to go out, and you’re done.

At this point, I must also note that there is one very important aspect to keep in mind when communicating via social networks. In recent years as the importance of social media has increased, many dioceses around the country have begun developing specific social media policies that all parish employees and some volunteers are required to follow. These are in place for your protection. It’s always best to check with the communications office at your local diocese for information on establishing a presence on social media. They also might be able to provide some best practices. Why reinvent the wheel?

3. Send out Email Newsletters to parishioners each week.

According to a 2012 study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), “more than eight in ten Catholics (83 percent) send email at least occasionally.” Email is, by far, still the most preferred method of communication. With this in mind, parishes should be utilizing this important medium to reach out to and engage with parishioners.

When collecting information on a parish registration form, be sure to include a space for a family email address. A parish might also consider conducting a census once every few years to gather the most current information for all parish families.

Parishes should very much consider investing in online email marketing systems. These services help make designing and sending emails to parishioners relatively simple. Import your parish’s logo, add information, and send—it really is that easy. Services like Flock Note, MailChimp, and Constant Contact provide additional services that may also be useful to the parish. The rates for these services vary and depend on the number of email addresses the parish imports. Parishes can also link social media accounts to these services; this then allows the emails to be shared across all your social networks.

4. Develop a routine of issuing Press Releases.

Often times, people within the larger community are provided very little information about upcoming events at your parish. In order to increase exposure for events, it should be common practice to send out press releases to your local papers, television stations, and radio stations.

Most media outlets have community calendar sections that allow organizations to submit press releases with information on upcoming events. Find the contact and deadline information for submitting details. Compile that information into a document for future usage.

Depending on the submission deadlines for the different media outlets, parishes may need to submit press releases a couple of weeks in advance. If that’s the case, looking ahead and determining a schedule for press releases is crucial. You do not want to be late in advertising for an event.

Press releases should generally be sent out by one person in the parish office. This will help prevent confusion and allow for control of the message coming out from the parish. Be sure to reiterate to the ministries and groups active within your parish that this service is available to them. Encourage them to go through the office when submitting information on events to local papers. Many times, newspaper editors are more inclined to place information in their next issues if that information is coming from the parish itself.

5. Develop a Communications Plan.

One of the most important documents a parish will produce is a communications plan. This plan should include demographic information about the parish and about the surrounding community in order to assist the pastor and the parish staff in developing strategies for communications. It’s important to examine the parish’s current communication efforts and consider some ways where improvements can be made.

After conducting some initial research, develop some communications goals and objectives for the parish for the year. Then, develop some key strategies that will help the parish achieve the desired outcomes.

The communications plan should also include information on branding for the parish. Information about official organization logos—color, typeface, etc.—should be included. If the official logo is to be utilized by various ministries associated with the parish, details should be provided about how to adjust the logo for each ministry.

The communications plan is also a good place to include diocesan policies for social media usage for parish employees and volunteers. It might also be beneficial for parishes to include an acknowledgement form for employees and volunteers to sign, which basically states they agree to follow the guidelines included in the parish communications plan.

Wrapping Up…

I hope these five suggestions are helpful. I, by no means, claim to have all of the answers for communications at the parish level. These are just some of the observations I have made along the way. If you want to add anything, feel free to comment below. I’m always open to suggestions. If there is something mentioned above that you would like more information on, please do not hesitate to comment below or email me: tom@thomaspringle.com.


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For those attending this year’s Catholic New Media Conference in Boston, all of you are invited to the CNMC Boston Tweet-up hosted by Catholic Drinkie and yours truly on Friday, October 18th at 7:00 p.m. Additional information is below. I hope many of you will be able to come out and join us for this evening of fun.

CNMCBostonTweetUpBe sure to follow us on Twitter:

Vabs: @CatholicDrinkie

Me: @CatholicaOmnia

See you at JJ Foley’s–voted Boston’s Best Bar in 2012!!

 


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