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Proclaiming the Gospel in the Digital Continent

Sacred Heart Hosts Discussion on the Role of Digital Communications in the Work of Evangelization

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

Pope Benedict XVI often spoke on the challenges of evangelizing in the digital age. It’s a test many dioceses, parishes, and ministries face today. How do we proclaim the Gospel amid today’s cultural and technological shifts? On February 22, people gathered at Sacred Heart Major Seminary to listen to Matthew Meeks, the chief digital and marketing officer for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, share his experience and vision of the role of digital communications and marketing in the work of evangelization.

Close to one hundred people—including seminary faculty, seminarians, and communications professionals—attended the discussion. The event detailed ways on how to “evangelize in the digital continent,” which was the topic of Meeks’ keynote address.

Prior to his work with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Meeks led social media business for Initiative, a global media agency, overseeing sales, strategy, and team management on accounts with hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising spending. He managed social media for Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Group and launched the social media profile for an international athlete and celebrity during the 2010 World Cup, which now reaches more than 117 million people.

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

Meeks brought the knowledge he gained in the corporate world into the Church, when he was hired as the chief digital and marketing officer for the nation’s largest Catholic Archdiocese.

During his four years working for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Meeks has recruited a team of digital experts to work within the Archdiocese, resulting in increased digital distribution of up to seven million Catholics per week from sixty thousand two years ago. In addition to his work with the Archdiocese, Meeks also spends time assisting other dioceses and apostolates, helping to guide their digital and communications strategies.

Throughout his address, Meeks referenced Pope Benedict XVI’s call to evangelize in the digital continent, similar to the early life of the Church when the apostles had to figure out how to spread the Good News to Greek and Roman cultures, using methods of communication unique to each culture. Therefore, it makes sense disciples of the twenty-first century must enter the digital continent and use new tools and technologies as a way to reach more people with the Good News.

“The duty particularly falls on the young people, to figure out how to leverage these new tools to spread the Gospel in new ways,” Meeks said. “There is great hope right now because we have a global interconnected world. In Rome, it took the disciples a few hundred years at the speed of walking to flip an empire into a Church. Now we can communicate with the other side of the world in milliseconds—and if we walk these new roads, we can turn the world into a Church very quickly.”

Meeks went on to present specific tips on how laity and priests can evangelize online, saying first and foremost, we need to feel that missionary call within ourselves and encourage others to be missionaries. 

“We need to create, find, and share the good stories online that will change hearts. We need to speak up lovingly on difficult issues and teach others how to do that because so much of online discourse is argumentation, and we really need to be a model to people on how to be a loving voice on the internet,” Meeks said. “We need to journey with and invite people online into an actual physical community.”

Following the keynote address, other experts on evangelization, marketing, and communications joined the discussion. Anthony D'Ambrosio, founder of Catholic Creatives and Sherwood Fellows creative agency, along with Patrick Padley, director of integrated marketing at Glass Canvas creative agency, joined Meeks in a Q&A session and shared some insight on evangelizing in the digital continent.

“Digital tools are so new and so readily available, we often forget that digital shouldn’t replace older methods of evangelization, but it should extend and facilitate,” said Padley. “You’re most likely not going to convert someone because they watched a YouTube video, but it can definitely spark questions and spark interest. We should remember that prayer and fervent faith is also very key.”

Meeks concluded his keynote with hope and optimism moving forward, sharing his belief in a world transformed if we commit to a full force missionary effort into the digital continent.

“I think we can transform the world, truly. We now have a global interconnected world that is spreading falsities at rapid speed, but this is perfect opportunity for renaissance,” he said. “Let us seek Jesus through Mary and avail ourselves to the spirit of God, and pray for a new renaissance that redeems the entire world.”

Would you like to watch a recording of Matthew Meeks’ talk? Videos will be posted in the coming days on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram accounts. Don’t forget to follow us to view videos and stay in touch with Sacred Heart.

MOSAIC Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.