When you consider how much time parish technology coordinators spend coming up with ways to bring people together, it’s ironic how often they work alone.
“Our Diocese does a lot for Catholic school teachers, but we don’t do a whole lot with parishes and technology,” says Tom Steele, IT Director at St. Joseph Parish in York, PA. “Everyone is left to their own devices.”
And when this is the case, services sometimes suffer. “Web sites are not up to par, computers lack antivirus, or have obsolete operating systems,” says Steele.
Inspired by both these concerns and a parish focus on sharing gifts and talents, Steele decided to put together and host a conference. Open to “anyone having to do with technology in a parish,” the first Parish Life Technology Conference was held on October 14. Its goal? To “talk tech.”
The day-long conference consisted of a keynote by Sean O’Hare along with two breakout sessions featuring five different topics and remarks by Steele and parish pastor Fr. Louis Petruha, OFM Cap. Breakout sessions focused on topics including best practices for parish databases (Amy Mensch), uses for technology in youth ministry and religious education (Steele), leading your organization in technological use (Sr. Geralyn Schmidt), and social media (Melissa Cheek) and included demonstrations of Verbum Catholic software and free downloads of books from Verbum (James Battle).
“We wanted to create an environment where our church partners could also share creativity, knowledge, and pull resources together so that they can realize their own goals through the assistance of technology,” wrote Steele in the program.
So why am I telling you about a conference that happened nearly two months ago? Because Steele has no intention of making this a one-time event. Plans are underway for a 2014 conference that is once again, according to Steele, “uniquely Catholic in focus, but open to the public.”
A visit to the Parish Life Technology Conference website makes it clear that Steele sees both technology and collaboration as playing an important role in evangelization, one that he hopes to enhance through future conferences.
His philosophy is simple. “We can’t do it alone.”
Copyright 2013 Lisa Hess