Digital Plans For Summer Spirituality
Many parishes are nearing the end of the religious education season, parish school year and anticipating the season of what many refer to as the summer slump. It’s a time for parishes to assume the pews will be emptier and the pace of parish life slower.
In the three years I’ve been heading up our parish social media strategy for using technology to issue a summer spiritual challenge it’s been pretty easy to serve as a digital disciple. As with everything I do it all begins with prayer and collaboration with the parish staff. We discern as a team of three what we will do to engage our parish of over six thousand families.
The first year we used the entire summer to shine a spotlight on ministries in our parish who were living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy through participation in a ministry. This theme coincided with the Year of Mercy the church was celebrating in 2016 and we used the hashtag #summerofmercy.
Year two we issued a challenge to read spiritual books during summer vacation and every day of the summer we shared a book. We used the hashtag #50BestCatholicReads in every post and then shared in the body of the post a single number as a countdown for the list of fifty we shared the summer of 2017.
Last year, we focused on the Psalms and tapped our priests and deacons to share their favorites and hashtaged them #PsalmSummer.
Because the parish is nestled in a beach community we took a picture of a cross on the beach as a backdrop to write the psalm on But, the most engaging post we’ve done for the last three years is to encourage people to go to mass when they are on vacation and take a picture of themselves or the bulletin at the church they are visiting then post it on their social media with the hashtag #missingmartyrs. The engagement we got was gone through the roof with pictures on our pages from all over the world!
The feast days of our saints should also be a priority to share with followers. It helps followers to remember that their is an advocate for any situation or challenge they may be confronted with. Here are the feast days to observe for the month of June: St. Justin (June 1), St. Norbert (June 6), St. Boniface (June 5), St. Barnabas (June 11), St. Anthony of Padua (June 13), St. Romuald (June 19), St. Aloysius Gonzaga (June 21),Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More (June 22), Feast of Corpus Christi (June 23),the Birth of St. John the Baptist (June 24), St. Josemaria Escriva (June 26), St. Cyril of Alexandria (June 27), St. Irenaeus (June 28) and the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29). The feasts of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter (June 2), St. Ephrem (June 9) and the First Martyrs of the Church (June 30)
The month also has a liturgical theme for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and here is a link to a search on Aleteia.org that provides a plethora of content to share with your followers. Here’s a link to a minute long video explaining the devotion.The worldly themes for the month of June include all things summer of course. Did you know that St. Bartholomew is the patron of skin disease so remind followers not to forget the sunscreen and to say a little prayer for protection against sunburn and skin cancer. The other theme is of course Father’s Day and Men’s health awareness month. Another theme that might work for your parish is that it is Rose Month and June 8th is also National Rose Day a perfect day to offer a rosary of prayers for the intercession of Immaculate Heart of Mary for a parish or personal intention this month. The summer solstice, the longest day of the year is the 21st which could be a great day to have your parish host a 24 hours of adoration, rosaryathon or even start a novena to the sacred heart of Jesus.
As always though we have to first and foremost use our online platforms to share the good news, celebrate elements of our faith traditions and inspire our followers to be #digitaldisciples by sharing our content.Hopefully, this inspires you to think of a challenge for your parish this summer.