Catholic New Media Conference in Boston is a Hit

Catholic New Media Conference in Boston is a Hit


This past weekend, the Archdiocese of Boston hosted the Catholic New Media Conference, the seventh presented by the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN) and the second time the archdiocese hosted it.


I was the primary coordinator from the Archdiocese for the conference and despite my worst fears, it went off pretty well. In fact, I haven’t heard a single complaint from anyone or a single negative remark. If I hadn’t been running around like a mad man the whole time, I might have said it was the best CNMC I’ve experienced (this was my fourth).


The keynote address was given by Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, a key figure in the Vatican’s social media efforts. He spoke about the thinking behind and the lessons learned in their recent projects including the papal Twitter account @Pontifex, the news portal, and the Pope App. He was by turns humorous and forthright about the lessons learned (not to mention the new vocabulary he picked up from the responses to the papal tweets). Scot Landry has done a good job of summarizing the talk and you can also watch it in its entirety below.

The bottom line is that the Vatican gets it. They understand social media and have really leapfrogged everyone in what to use and how to use it. I’m going to need to re-listen to this talk so I can use the wisdom in it to improve the new media efforts of the Archdiocese.


My own contribution was a talk I did along with Fr. Roderick Vonhogen on the use of video in new media. My portion was dedicated the live video streaming and I covered the gamut from free and simple to complex and requiring some investment. Other talks included George Martell giving his take on how to take better photographs, Maria Johnson discussing writing online, Pat Padley on reaching out to a mobile generation, Scot Landry on reaching out to inactive Catholics, Fr. Roger Landry discussing Pope Francis’s communication style, Jeff Young and Fr. Roderick on using Internet audio, and Angela Sealana on lessons from the Blessed Mother on being a new media missionary. In the afternoon, we wrapped up with a moderated panel that included many of the people above as well as the Archdiocese’s Fr. Paul Soper, director of pastoral planning, answering some very good questions, including one about how we reach the poor and marginalized using new media.


As you might expect the day began with Mass and ended with Adoration. Then while some folks went out for a Tweetup at a local establishment, when I finished cleaning up, talking to some of the people, and seeing everyone off, I headed home to collapse in my chair with a stiff drink.



Sunday, we rose early, the whole family, and headed into the North End of Boston to Sacred Heart Parish for Mass with the parishioners there. It’s a beautiful Italian church full of statues and devotional imagery. We pretty much took over with our conference attendees. The celebrant was great, a visiting Jesuit from Boston College, who looked like a Tolkien dwarf and gave a smashing homily that connected the Red Sox, a Gatorade commercial, and the parable of the unjust judge.


Following Mass, we were scheduled to take a Duck Tour of Boston. To be honest, I’d never taken a Duck Tour and it was a lot of fun. The driver was real character, obviously selected for his personality, although he seemed obsessed with how much everythig cost in his script. It was a gorgeous day on the streets of Boston and on the waters of the Charles River and so it was a great tour. He even let Sophia and Anthony “drive” the Duck while it was in the water. (Isabella and Ben refused the opportunity.)





Lunch was the next stop, at a place appropriately named Artu (like R2D2, get it?), which was nice for about half the meal until Anthony and Benedict started getting restless. Besides the rolls, there was nothing they wanted to eat and they were getting tired already. I opted to make a tactical retreat, taking the boys and leaving Melanie with the girls. We went around the corner to Modern Pastry, where I bought them slices of Sicilian pizza and a “black and white” (we always called them half-moons) pastry. We sat on some steps to eat and then rejoined the group as they were coming out of the restaurant.


The schedule for the rest of the afternoon was some practical media training. George Martell would lead a group on a walk around the area of Boston, teaching his group how to tell a story through photography while Fr. Roderick did the same with audio and video and then after an hour they would switch off. However, Melanie and I decided had probably gone as far as they could for the day and made our way back to our car. Although it was after a stop at Mike’s Pastry so Melanie could get a treat for her and the girls. It was only fair.


All in all, it turned out to be a pretty great, if very tiring CNMC and I’m glad it seemed to go well for everyone. It’s always a great chance to connect with people I only ever see online. Unfortunately as a co-coordinator, I couldn’t spend much time in that interaction this year. It was nice that Fr. Roderick had extended his trip and we were able to invite over to our house for dinner on Monday.

So that’s the CNMC. For all the great photos from George Martell, including ones I used here, go to, where they are available for download under a Creative Commons Share-Alike, Attribution-Required license.

You can read other recaps linked from Maria Johnson’s blog including her own.

Image Credit