Archdiocese of Boston surveys Catholics about church and its leaders

Archdiocese of Boston surveys Catholics about church and its leaders – The Boston Globe:

“The Archdiocese of Boston has hired a top Democratic consultant to poll Catholics in Eastern Massachusetts — most of whom no longer attend weekly Mass — to find out what they think about the church and its leaders.

John Marttila, who served as a strategist for Joe Biden, John F. Kerry, and Deval Patrick, has overseen a phone survey this month on behalf of the church, asking active and inactive Catholics a wide-ranging series of 90 questions.”

They’re asking questions about whether people support abortion or want to see women in leadership positions in the Church, in addition to how often they go to Mass and why they might not go, among others. Inevitably some will say that this is the archdiocese watering down the Church’s teachings or catering to dissent, but that’s a shortsighted approach.

Before you make plans for evangelization, you need to find out where people stand. There are a lot of assumptions out there about what people believe, but what do people actually understand about Church teaching? Why do they dissent? What is their understanding of those teachings? What do they need to know?

When a pastor knows where his people are then he knows how to approach them. He can change what is available for change without attempting to change what is immutable.


The difference one priest can make

The difference one priest can make:

“Over the past eight years, by God’s grace, Father Angel’s efforts have completely reversed the fortunes of the struggling parish community. In one church, Mass attendance exploded from 25 people to 200. Another saw its numbers grow from 40 to 250. In all the churches, weekend Masses became standing room only affairs, with people coming to church even when they knew that might mean standing outside in the hot Georgia sun.”

This Colombian native in a missionary diocese in Georgia had a simple formula for turning his parish and missions around. First, he enabled parishioners’ sense of ownership and pride in their churches by initiating a top-to-bottom cleaning. Then he got people to stop treating the sacraments like a one-time purchase by offering to baptize any child, no questions asked, if the parents attended Mass every week for three months prior and then required parents of religious education children to come to “Ask Father” sessions in the church while the children were win class. He uses the time to catechize parents.

I’m sure there are other steps he’s taken that have contributed to this success, but these are quite remarkable because they strike at the heart of the problem: a lack of a sense of belonging and a lack of doing what a Catholic does.

Photo: Courtesy photo via OSV


Using Slack for families

Using Slack for families – Unclutterer:

“Slack is a communication tool meant for businesses and groups. It provides real-time conversations between team members, file sharing, a very powerful search, what amounts to topic-focused ‘chat rooms,’ and more. I’ve been using it in a professional sense for months now. Only recently did it dawn me on what an effective family communication tool it could be as well.”

This is a great idea. We’ve been using Slack at work for over a year, improving communications between our two parishes, but I’d never thought about using it for family communications. Right now my extended family uses a combination of text messages, emails, Facebook Messages, and a Facebook group to communicate, but it often gets confused and confusing. Having a specific place like Slack would be awesome. I wonder if I could get everyone to use it.


Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks

Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks – The Atlantic:

“The story of how it could take 28 years to install clocks that tell you when the damn trains are coming turns out not to be about some dinosaur fixed-block signaling system and the gleaming new technology here to replace it. It’s simpler than that: It’s the story of a large organization’s first encounter with a large software project.”

If you wanted a snapshot of every problem a bloated government agency could have, here it is: necessary modernization held back by unions that won’t trade hours for a system that works; contracts bloated by greed and political posturing; intentional inefficiencies introduced into the system so as not to “kill the job”; spending hundreds of millions to create duplicate systems; and more.

At one point, the reporter says it will take 175 years before the whole MTA signaling system–which is early-20th century vintage now–will replaced. 175 years! That would be like a major transportation infrastructure in our largest city today relying on technology from 1840!


I’m joining SQPN as it’s Managing Director

I’m happy to announce that I have joined the fine folks at the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN) in their Catholic new media ministry work and have been named Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer.[1]

I’m looking forward to helping Fr. Roderick Vonhögen and everyone at SQPN to advance the mission by creating even more new, wonderful content and growing the audience and community surrounding our shows. Stay tuned for all the great things that are coming and follow everything we’re up to at and the SQPN Facebook page.

I’ve been a part of the SQPN community for a decade now, going back before it even existed. I remember listening to those first episodes of The Catholic Insider with Fr. Roderick chronicling the last days of Pope St. John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. I also remember listening to Fr. Roderick outlining his pre-SQPN vision of a future network of Catholic media professionals creating first class content to serve a large audience with a variety of interests.

In 2010, I learned that SQPN might be interested in coming to Boston for its Catholic New Media Celebration, its regular gathering of the community surrounding the podcasts that it produces. Working for the Archdiocese of Boston’s newly created Secretariat for Catholic Media, I brought the idea to my boss of officially inviting them to partner with us to put on the CNMC. It went off great and many people still tell me it was the best one. As just one measure, we’re still seeing the fruit of seeds planted that weekend coming forth today. Then we invited them back again in 2013 for another phenomenal experience.

I do want to acknowledge the great shoulders I stand upon in my new position, including Greg Willits who helped found SQPN with his wife Jennifer and Fr. Roderick back in 2005 and Steve Nelson who picked up where Greg left off with a lot of the organizational work and putting together several CNMCs in his tenure.

The future of SQPN and Catholic media in general is pretty bright. We’re going to take some time to pray and think about our roadmap for the future, but in a general sense look for us to continue to what has worked well, while also expanding into areas that show great promise, like video. I hope you all will join us and give us your support.

  1. This is a part-time professional position and I will also be continuing my full-time work as Director of Communications for the Matthew 13 Catholic Collaborative in Walpole, MA.  ↩

Iraqi nun looks at Syria refugee battle through lens of own past

Gelzinis: Iraqi nun looks at Syria refugee battle through lens of own past | Boston Herald:

“‘To react to ISIS, to the horror they have caused,’ Mother Olga said, ‘is to close the door on all the people whose lives have already been shattered, who’ve lost parents and children and everything they have in this world.

‘While I understand why people would want to react this way out of fear for what they have seen,’ she said, ‘but by closing our doors to all the victims of ISIS, we are only giving ISIS even more power. In a very real sense, they have succeeded in terrorizing us.

‘Beyond making them stronger, this reaction removes the hope of those refugees who’ve been trapped by this poison, this evil, and are desperately seeking a way to sustain their lives.’”

Mother Olga speaks with moral authority because she’s been there. She was a refugee like the Syrian refugees of today.

Photo: George Martell/BCDS CC-BY-ND-2.0


Syfy is Releasing a Film, De-Rebranding, and Becoming Super Interesting

Syfy is Releasing a Film, De-Rebranding, and Becoming Super Interesting:

“A shift in focus — a re-niching, as it were — was announced in The Hollywood Reporter last year: ‘….(new VP Bill McGoldrick has) has two mandates: greenlight a space opera a la Battlestar and usher the network back into the golden age of high-profile, big-budget miniseries now duplicated by so many of its competitors.’”

This is indeed good news. After the end of BSG and the mishandling of the very successful Stargate franchise, SyFy has floundered woefully. Some of the best TV science-fiction, meanwhile, is coming out of Canada. Continuum (which just ended) and Killjoys are just two examples of those. And with the return of Star Wars to the big screen and Star Trek to the little one, science fiction is on the upswing.

I’m looking forward to the Expanse series. I’ve been enjoying the books, not least because it’s a very interesting milieu that’s been built. I’m not a fan of horror, but even the light scifi of Haven and Warehouse 13 would be welcome again. The future of science fiction on TV looks bright.

0 Why you might want to look for a ‘work spouse’

Why you might want to look for a ‘work spouse’ – Jobs news –

“In fact, sometimes having a ‘work spouse’ can give you things your actual significant other cannot.

The Globe writes:‘With a work spouse, it’s easier to set your feelings aside than at home, and work wives and husbands—intimately familiar with the pressures their office partners face—are less likely to tune out during work talk. As for the gender of either spouse, that doesn’t necessarily matter; it’s the support that counts.’”

No, no, no, no. Hey, it‘s great to have a best friend at the office, someone who you can talk to, encourage and be encouraged by, and have fun with. But don’t call it a “work wife” or “work husband.” For one thing, words means things and it‘s dangerous to open the door to allowing yourself to think of someone who‘s not your spouse as being anything like your spouse.

Plus, it continues the devaluation of the meaning of marriage. Oh, and yuck.


Vivid color photos of 1923 Paris

Vivid color photos of 1923 Paris, hub of artistry and progress:

“Renowned for his precise composition, attention to detail, and painterly use of light and color, Gervais-Courtellemont became a photographer for National Geographic. He continued to travel and give lectures on photography.
In January 1923, he photographed landmarks and scenes throughout Paris, a city experiencing a period of economic growth and optimism following the end of World War I.”

These are some beautiful photos of an era we usually only see in black and white. It’s easy to forget that our grandparents lived in beautiful color too.