Wow! June flew by with all the celebrations of First Communion, Confirmation, Ordination anniversaries for priests, Graduation and closing down the school for summer vacation.
One of the most common challenges to parishes wanting to use social media as a tool for creating a digital community is what to post. For me I adopted the practice of visiting CatholicCulture.org and clicking the liturgical year tab to outline who the month is dedicated to, what liturgical season the month falls in, the Pope's intention and even recipes and activities. So the month of July is dedicated to "The Precious Blood of Jesus". It is my practice to change the cover photo of the Facebook page and you could also change your Twitter page header picture too. We will take a picture of the cup filled with wine on our altar, but you can visit Liturgical Publications Art Portal to also find an appropriate picture.
Planning your month always starts with the Saints. These posts will always spark engagements from your followers, so plugging them into your posting plan helps to boost your reach. Here are the Saints to create posts for in the month of July:
(1) St. Junipero Serra and St. Oliver Plunket, (3) Thomas the Apostle, (5)Anthony Mary of Zaccaria; Elizabeth of Portugal, (6) Maria Goretti, (11)Benedict, (13) Henry, (14) St. Kateri Tekakwitha,(15) Bonaventure, (16) Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (18) Camillus de Lellis, (20) Apollinaris, (21) Lawrence of Brindisi, (22) Mary Magdalene, (23) Bridget (24) Sharbel (Charbel) Makhloof, (25) James, (26) Joachim and Anne, (29) Martha, (31) Ignatius of Loyola.
The posts you create for the Saints can be generic pictures, but you will always receive more engagement if you post pictures of the statues of Saints from within your own church, if you have them. For instance we have a building and statue for St. Kateri Tekakwitha at our parish, so we will use those pictures in our posts. St. Ignatius of Loyola founder of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits who manage many schools and universities in our communities is also celebrated this month. Share pictures of these places and honor the order for its works in your community! You can always simply share a post from Catholic Saint of the Day on Facebook or @Saintoftheday on Twitter to your pages without doing a thing.
Share what's going on behind the scenes at your parish. Since it's ordinary time there won't be any big changes to the liturgical environment, but now is a great time to show off the work of ministries like the altar society, sacristans or behind the bulletin planning. Does your parish host a festival, carnival or special event during July? Capture in pictures or video the preparations for these event(s) and create event posts on Facebook to remind people to save the dates. While June remains the most popular month to get married in the U.S. July ranks 4th, so sharing articles about marriage or pictures of people getting married in your church is a great way to share sacramental elements of your parish.
How do we capture Parish and Community life during summer with so many people on vacation and kids out of school? Think about it your parish may provide summer camp to the outer community, does your parish culture include an ethnic celebration like Fil-American Friendship Day observed by Filipino Americans (July 4), Feast of Lanterns as observed by Japanese Americans (9) and of course all Americans celebrate Independence Day (July 4). I will change our cover photo to celebrate the observance of Independence day by showing a flag over our building or from inside our church and encourage you to do the same. We have also encouraged people to share where they are attending mass while on vacation made with this custom graphic tool called canva.com to spark engagement. The ConVocation is happening July 1- 4 and if your parish is attending share what you are learning while you are there using the hashtag #CatholicConvo!
During the summer it is helpful to create an ongoing series of posts. As summer is synonymous with summer reading we are sharing #50BestCatholicReads as a way to encourage people to read a Catholic book during vacation. I recently visited Long Beach, Washington a beautiful small coastal town that was so excited to be basking in the warmth and light of the sunshine after a long wet winter and spring. Share inspirational pictures of things that happen in nature within your parish environment. Also, share articles about summer related themes that can be found through Google searches or on Catholic publication website. My go to is Aleteia's Facebook page, just click posts, enter the word summer or whatever you are searching for in the search field to find articles that are inspirational to share with your followers.
Last, but certainly not least share things from the Pope and his intention for the month. This month's intention is for lapsed Catholics "That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life." You can also share the Pope's message via video posts by visiting The Pope Video channel on You Tube and share a link to your social media pages. You could also create a custom graphic with the intention and make it a post. We are sharing a picture of our clergy holding a book they are reading over the summer as a part of a #CatholicSummerBooks series. We've had great engagement so far.
Don't forget to remember any clergy birthdays and check to see if your Bishop or Archbishop is celebrating a birthday over the summer to create a post for it. Now that Facebook Live is available on desktop you could encourage your pastor or associate priests to share a 30 - 90 second inspirational message. The same message can now be used on Instagram and a link on Twitter.
Peace and Joy of Summer to YOU!